Why did UKIP do so badly in Scotland?

This should really be the big question for our political pundits in the media. Given the astonishing success of UKIP in England and Wales, why did they poll so poorly up here in Scotland. For make no mistake about it, a miserly 10% in a 30%+ turnout is very poor. Across the UK, UKIP came first with nearly 28% of the votes cast, and in Wales the party won 27% of the votes to finish a narrow second behind Labour. While in Scotland UKIP finished fourth and only narrowly won the final seat. This seems to me to be a quite remarkable differential. In England and Wales, UKIP’s share of the votes was almost three times its share in Scotland. Surely there must be something that explains this significant difference? You would have had to look long and hard to find anything in the way of analysis of this differential in our not so wonderful media. Our dearly beloved BBC Scotland chose to lead its phone in programme with why did Scotland vote UKIP?, not why did UKIP do so poorly, or even why do the LibDems continue to face wipe-out in Scotland? No, once again the BBC decides in its wisdom to give even more free publicity to UKIP, which remember finished a poor fourth in Scotland.

The roll of the media, and in particular the BBC in promoting UKIP before and during these elections is yet another nail in the coffin of that once well respected organization. We had to endure almost blanket exposure to Nigel Farage and his motley crew. This may or may not have been justified in England and Wales, but there was simply no excuse for this free publicity in Scotland.  Would UKIP have even come close to winning the sixth seat in Scotland if the Scottish Greens had been given the same amount of airtime? There is indeed something rotten about the power of the BBC in Britain.

As for the other results in Scotland, no great surprises. The SNP did win the popular vote, less that is forgotten is all the media coverage devoted to UKiP. The SNP’s success in remaining the most popular party, even after seven years in government is a remarkable achievement and worth of more than passing note. While Labour has recovered from the very poor showing last time around, there is still little sign of them making a serious challenge to the SNP in any national election. The Tories stood still, quite an achievement in a way, given the success of UKIP and the decline in the Tory vote elsewhere. And of course the poor LibDems continue on their seemingly endless decline into obscurity and irrelevance. The Greens increased their share of the vote by  only 1%. Very disappointing for them, but perhaps understandable given the way UKIP were allowed to dominate the airwaves.

Where does all this froth leave us with regard to the independence referendum? Not much the wiser really. An election with a turnout of only 34% can never be much of a guide as what might happen in the referendum where the turnout is expected to be double or even higher. The votes cast in this election only prove two things in my view. One, that Scotland really is different from the rest of the UK. Secondly, only a minority of people care the proverbial 4XXXX about the EU. This above all, perhaps should be the key lesson from these elections. Harping on about the EU, and how dreadful it is, does not seem to generate much response from the majority of the public.  A Yes vote is still there to be won.


Filed under European Union, Scotland, UK

3 responses to “Why did UKIP do so badly in Scotland?

  1. Steve Massey

    The SNP sucks up most of the Scottish ‘Screw the establishment’ vote that goes to UKIP in the rest of the UK.

    • Your comment seems to be at odds with both history and reality. The SNP are nothing like UKIP, and most important of all, have been in government in Scotland for seven years. So, in what way do they get the “screw the establishment” vote?

  2. bjsalba

    UKIP did badly in Scotland because there is another viable alternative to the three Westminster main parties – SNP.

    It is a rare thing in these islands – a government that tries to serve the all the people – not just an elite few of their rich friends, the corporations or trade unions that fund them or their own party faithful. They work hard to have fair, efficient government. They try to prevent lobbying getting out of hand. They like neither bloated bureaucracies nor excessively expensive private sector contracts.

    They stick to their manifesto as much as is possible but they are not dogmatic about how a goal is achieved. If something does not work they look for other ways to achieve their objective. That does not happen at Westminster.

    They are not by any means perfect; they make mistakes; they do not always succeed, but they do try. The main problem is that such a government, however, does not provide an easy target for either the opposition or the press so they resort to frantically twisting facts or outright lies and if that does not work they fall back on demonization of Alex Salmond.

    Those who trouble themselves to look a little further know better. That is why they are still so popular now after seven years in government. Unfortunately a large proportion of the electorate either does not know where to look or does not bother to look past the lurid press headlines.

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