On June 1 2011, we contributed a post about the extent to which the British National Party, UK Independence Party and the Conservatives were ‘fishing in the same pond’ of voters for their electoral support.
We did so on the basis of a 2009 survey, in which respondents were not only asked which party they would vote for in a general election, but also how likely it was that they would support any of the other parties. Our conclusions were that the majority of the potential voters of the BNP are also potential UKIP voters. In addition, slightly over half of potential BNP voters were also potential Conservative voters. The segment of the BNP support that does not overlap with either UKIP or Conservatives was relatively small, being less than 20 percent of the party’s total electoral potential.
Some readers asked us to show the overlap in the potential support of the BNP and left wing parties. The figure above provides this information, and has been constructed in the same fashion as the figure in our earlier blog post; and it allows us to draw a number of conclusions.
First, slightly over 40 percent of potential BNP voters are also potential supporters of the Greens. Overlap with Labour is smaller, amounting to less than a quarter of BNP electoral potential. However, both these overlaps are considerably smaller than those with the Tories and UKIP. In other words, and perhaps not surprisingly, the majority of potential BNP voters do not consider left wing parties as a relevant electoral choice: a clear majority looks at UKIP and Conservatives as an attractive alternative.
Second, the potential pool of voters shared by Labour and Greens is large. This suggests that under a different electoral system – one that does not force people to vote tactically – the Greens’ share of votes cast might be significantly higher.
This overlap between potential voters for the BNP and parties generally considered to be on the left suggests two further points. The first is that the ideological orientations of voters cannot directly be deduced from the ideological character of the party they vote for. Put differently, not all BNP supporters are Fascists, not all Labour supporters are socialists, and so on. The second is that overlap of support between Greens and BNP, two seemingly incompatible parties, is likely to contain a number of voters who are disenchanted with the mainstream parties, and for whom, therefore, any alternative carries some appeal. From our current data, unfortunately, we cannot ascertain how large this segment is.