23 APR 2011
A significant slice of the British electorate could be mobilised by a radical right party such as the UK Independence party
Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin
Ukip, a party once dismissed as being filled with "cranks and gadflies", poses a real threat to the main parties at the forthcoming elections. It was perhaps an acknowledgement of this challenge from a resurgent Ukip that encouraged David Cameron to make a controversial speech on immigration this week, in which he reached out to disgruntled Conservatives who might be thinking of flirting with Nigel Farage.
Though grassroots Tories have long voiced concern over immigration, they have seldom been tempted by a credible alternative. But after polling almost a million votes in the general election, recruiting the help of former Tory donors and finishing second in the Barnsley by-election, there is no question Ukip is on a roll. Labour progressives might find it all too easy to dismiss these events as a fortuitous bout of internecine warfare on the right. But as our recent study shows, supporters of Ukip are more than just grumpy old Tories. And there are good reasons why Labour should also be concerned by their rise.
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