“The Green Belt Effect” in action – Where did all those UKIP votes come from last night?
13/10/2011 – Meopham North (Gravesham) CON HOLD – CON 648 (47%) UKIP 464 (34%) LD 148 (11%) LAB 8%
You probably won’t hear much about it in the national press as the Liam Fox story rolls on, but last night, UKIP managed a quite remarkable share of the vote in the by election we polled for ITN Meridian in Meopham North, part of Gravesham Borough council in Kent.
Although Meopham North remained a Conservative hold, The UK Independence Party took a massive 34% of the vote in a seat they’d never stood in before, reducing the Conservatives share of the vote in an ultra safe ward since May using the “top vote” method from 71.1% to 47%. Despite the pre-poll protestations of Conservative Home that “the Green Belt Housing Plan in question comes from the Labour-run Council and is within the existing arrangements.” UKIP had clearly managed to establish in many voters minds during the campaign that they are the party most against the Government’s draft changes to the planning laws, and have manifesto pledges that local concerns should not be overridden something that chimes well with rural voters concerned about well, just that.
In our poll, looking at “The Green Belt Effect”, anger over the draft Green Belt Housing Plan was clear. 32% of respondents said it was very likely to affect how they voted. Of that 32% (very likely to affect) group, UKIP had a clear lead in voting intention (UKIP 56%, Con 36%, Lab 5%, LD 3%).
17% of Conservative voters at the 2010 General Election said they were going to switch to UKIP in this by-election. 18% of Conservative voters at the 2011 Local Election said they were going to switch to UKIP and 19% of those who voted Conservative at the 2010 General Election are undecided as to how they will vote in this by-election.
But this was not however, a straight Conservative – UKIP switch in our view. In our poll. 10% of Labour voters in the 2011 local elections said they would vote UKIP this time.
This issue will run and run in our view, it will be interesting to see how the Coalition respond as the electoral impact of planning law change makes itself further known…
Damian Lyons Lowe.