Nick Lowles publishes the first our ‘state of the race’ memos, using exclusive polling to look at how the euro elections are playing out.
Following the close of nominations in the EU elections, HOPE not hate is today publishing our first state of the race memo, looking at the possible gains or losses for right-wing populism and the far right, how voters are reacting to the Brexit debate, and what is motivating people as they consider their vote.
The memo – which you can read in full here – is based on two sets of polling HNH has done in the past two weeks, which we conducted to look at how the Populist right, and the far right, are faring.
The whole thing is worth having a read of, but here’s what I think are some key points:
- 9% of voters across the country have a favourable or very favourable view of Tommy Robinson. 46% of people view him very unfavourably. The rest either don’t have a view either way or have not heard of him.
- The radical right ‘Brexit Party’ has surged up to 28% in our European Election poll, predominantly on the back of a Tory collapse with May’s party down to 13% but also from UKIP who have slumped to 5%. Labour is currently in second place with 22%. If this polling were borne out on election day, UKIP would not get a single MEP elected.
- The election is dominated by the issue of Brexit: 51% say that a party’s policy on Brexit is the most important factor in deciding who to vote for, with only 17% of voters say they will be swayed by a party’s policies on subjects other than Brexit. There is very little support for either Theresa May’s deal (10%), or for a deal that would see Britain leave the EU while staying in the Customs Union (11%).
- The majority of the British public place both UKIP and Nigel Farage on the right wing of British politics, bordering on far right. Despite his attempts to detoxify his image over the past year, the public put Nigel Farage slightly further to the right than UKIP. 2017 Labour voters, young people and those who voted Remain in the 2016 EU referendum all put Farage in the far right category.
- UKIP’s adoption of strident anti-Muslim policies appear to have gone unnoticed by much of the electorate, who still overwhelming believe it remains a pro-Brexit and anti-immigration party.
That’s the new from the polling. But what does it tell us about the next few weeks. Here’s three things I think everyone needs to take on board:
- Although he is viewed extremely negatively by most people, ‘Tommy Robinson’ has an actual chance of winning a seat in the North West. He needs to get 8.9% of the vote, but if turnout slumps, as a lot of people expect, that could end up translating into as little as 140,000 votes.
- Nigel Farage is on course to dominate this election. It looks like he will comfortably come first in the elections, with the most MEPs by far. Only the Brexit Party and Labour are due to win one or more seat in every region, but this poll suggests that Farage will beat Labour in the North East and reduce Labour to two seats in London. Labour is losing its remain voters to the clear-cut remain parties, and its leave voters to Farage.
- The main parties must respond to both of the above developments. Their best approach would be to seek to increase turnout, which requires giving people clear and strong reasons to come out vote, and by running an energetic, targeted campaign on the ground.
As our Campaign Director Matthew McGregor told this morning’s Sunday Times:
“The main parties are haemorrhaging votes to parties with a hard-line leave or hard-line remain position. This is a worrying trend. Tommy Robinson is well known and strongly disliked by the overwhelming majority of people in the country. But it’s no good strongly disliking what Tommy Robinson stands for from the comfort of your sofa. People need to actually come out and vote to avoid him sneaking in via a low turnout.”