Following the success of Ukip in taking second place in the Eastleigh by-election, many commentators have being talking up the prospects of the party in Scotland.
This right-wing “Little Englander” party has indeed enjoyed success south of the Border, on a manifesto opposing immigration, looking for withdrawal from the European Union, being sceptical of climate change and wanting tax discs on bicycles. However, while a majority in England want the UK to leave the EU, in Scotland this position is reversed, with the majority wanting to remain within the largest single market in the world.
In addition, almost half of the support for Ukip is coming from former Conservative voters. And the pattern of support for Ukip across the country is similar to that of the Conservative Party, with strongholds in the Midlands and the south (excluding London). Indeed, 60 per cent of Ukip’s support comes in Conservative-held seats. A considerable chunk of Ukip support is, therefore, based on a collection of disgruntled Tories in the shires. This position is clearly not relevant north of the Border, where the Tories do not enjoy the same popularity they do in England.
At the last European Parliamentary elections in 2009, Ukip came second in the UK, securing just under 17 per cent of the vote and securing 13 MEPs. In Scotland, however, it came behind the Greens in sixth place, with just over 5 per cent of the vote. At the last Scottish Parliamentary election in 2011, Ukip achieved less than 1 per cent of the vote. We are in danger of giving Ukip a credibility that is simply not deserved, in Scotland at least.