Ukip steals Tory and Labour core vote
And so, with Douglas Carswell’s landslide victory in Clacton, Ukip has won its first ever MP. It also came close to causing an even greater upset in Greater Manchester, coming within 617 votes of winning the formerly safe Labour seat of Heywood and Middleton.
The former result was predicted from the outset; Mr Carswell had cultivated a large personal following and Ukip performed well in Essex in the European elections in May. The latter, caused by the death of the incumbent MP, was contested by candidates previously unknown to the electorate.
In their different ways, however, both contests show that the major parties really cannot take their core votes for granted any longer. Ukip is hoovering up support among the prized skilled working class electorate in particular; this is significant because it’s the floating vote that the main parties need to attract in order to secure a parliamentary majority. They might not ‘come home’ in sufficient numbers for either Labour or the Conservatives to secure an overall parliamentary majority.
So why is this? Tribal loyalties have weakened, coalition government has been a reality for the last four years and, as consumers, voters are used to having a wide variety of choices in supermarkets, mobile phones, electricity providers – you name it – so they are no longer fazed by a wider range of viable options at the ballot box.
This is a lesson for major retail brands as much as political parties: listen to your electorate – or customers – and tailor your offering to what they actually want, rather than what you think is good for them.