Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Is there a UKIP / BNP partnership?

Buried away in the middle of an article about UKIP’s efforts to win over middle-England in today’s Sunday Telegraph:

Accusations of racism are nothing new for Ukip. Last November a pro-BNP group stormed into a meeting of the party’s national executive and offered an alliance in which the BNP would concentrate on the north of the country and Ukip the south.

Mr Farage told the delegation to leave but the impression persists that there is common ground between them.

Nothing new there, I know. But in the following paragraph comes a fascinating pair of statistics that I hadn’t seen before:

It may not be an official pact, but the BNP is free from a Ukip challenge in 80 per cent of the seats it is contesting, while Ukip has no BNP challenger in 85 per cent of the seats in which it is standing.

That’s a mighty odd coincidence, wouldn’t you say?

So, has UKIP teamed up with the fascists? They may not agree on economic policy, but they do both want out of the EU, and they’re both strongly anti-immigration. UKIP may not have an overtly racist constitution, but the two parties share two key policy aims, and know that they are both competing for much the same relatively small fringe of discontented anti-EU, anti-immigration voters.

It would make strong strategic sense for the two main anti-EU, anti-immigration parties not to split their already limited potential vote by avoiding competing directly against each other – but is this a formal agreement, something more back room, or have the two parties’ election strategists simply ended up coming to the same conclusions about which party has the best hope in 8 out of every 10 electoral contests, and entirely independently decided to target their resources elsewhere?

I’m not much of a one for conspiracy theories, but an 80% correlation seems a tad too much of a coincidence to merely be coincidence. Then again, I’m also no statistician, and haven’t seen the figures for myself – it is possible that there’s an entirely innocent explanation. But if UKIP want to maximise their votes, a secret team-up with the BNP would be a good way to go about it. As long as the team-up remained secret, of course…

Update: In the interest of fairness, see the comments below. Given the relatively small number of seats the two parties are standing in out of the total being contested, it rather looks like this isn’t statistically significant. Coincidence or conspiracy? Quite possibly neither.

23 Comments

  1. It might not be national UKIP policy, but it is well known many of their local organisations have an “understanding” with one another. Here in North Staffs, until recently they had a deal which gave the BNP a free hand in Stoke and UKIP had the run in Newcastle-U-Lyme and its environs.

  2. Given that the BNP are standing in every County Council division in Essex, I’m not sure how the North/South split works. Beyond that, given that neither of them are standing in that many seats, I’m not sure that the 80% figure is that meaningful. Depending on what %age of seats each is standing in that might be about the correlation you’d expect given a random distribution of candidates, so it’s hard to claim conspiracy without more evidence of collusion.

  3. Nick – entirely possible. From a quick Google, UKIP are apparently fielding 567 candidates for the council elections; the BNP is putting up 459. I’m not sure how many seats are up for grabs in total, though…

  4. It wouldn`t be surprising if there was a small conspiracy by anyone near an election to have a little comdemnation by association. It also would not be surprising if small parties with limited resources strategically contest some seats rather than others.

  5. Challenge: use the words ‘non-aggression pact’ in a sentence without saying anything actionable or Godwinning the thread.

  6. Nosemonkey – according to a random person on Twitter (always the most reliable source) there are about 8000 seats up in this election, so that actually sounds like what you’d expect (given that UKIP mostly appeal to lower-middle class voters and BNP working class, so they’d tend to stand in different seats anyway).
    I’d absolutely love there to be some evidence of collusion, but alas this isn’t it :-/

  7. A quick glance here shows there were approximately 2,400 county council seats up in 2005, so as each of them are only standing in 20% of the seats, the 80-85% miss rate sounds about what you’d expect by chance.

  8. Ah, well – it was a nice idea while it lasted.

    Question, though: If they’re only standing in c.20% of the seats, why the hell are they getting so much publicity in the press? And why has Question Time had someone from UKIP on every week for at least the last three weeks? Damned BBC pro-UKIP bias… (Heh…)

  9. So Nosemonkey, your apparent indifference actually comes down to the old “association and smear” routine so beloved of EU lovers.

    God bless your EU socks. Your no different than the self-serving, self-promoting, corporatist-loving, LibLabCon that we have in power.

    I thought for some reason that you were better than this; it seems not.

  10. WG – not intended as a smear, merely an honest question, now honestly answered via people who know rather more about statistical probability than me. (One of whom happens to be a Lib Dem councillor.)

    This in turn now means that, thanks to the power of Google, should anyone else spot the same 80/85% statistic and go looking for an answer about whether or not the BNP and UKIP have teamed up, they will find this post complete with the comments that have demonstrated that there’s no statistical evidence to suggest that they have.

    I tend to end high up Google’s rankings with this place, for reasons that still confuse me. It would be easy to abuse this for party political ends, but as I don’t support any one party and honestly don’t care about politics enough to try, I instead feel a vague sense of responsibility about it.

  11. I find it intresting that such a question was raised in the first place. I tend to view UKIP as a more up market version and toned down version of the BNP. There are unpleaseant elements within UKIP….which is not surprising as like the BNP, UKIP is a one trick pony.

  12. Nonsense. BNP support comes from an entirely different base than does UKIP’s. BNP are socialist, authoritarian, protectionist, anti-foreigner. UKIP is libertarian, free market, and pro-global trade and cooperation but against the EU political structure.

    As far as immigration goes, the BNP want to kick out foreigners. UKIP believe immigration can help the economy but want it under the control of a demcoratically elected British government, with a work permit system as many countries around the world also have.

  13. Independence Home – while not doubting for a second that the manifesto policies of the BNP and UKIP have very different approaches (I’ve read bits of both of them, so know that certainly on economic issues their policies are quite different), do you really think that the people who vote for the BNP and UKIP know the details of the policies?

    As far as I can tell, in a sizable chunk of cases voters for the BNP and UKIP do so out of *negative* reasons, not positive identification with the parties’ aims. After all, UKIP’s recent resurgence in the polls has come only after the recent Westminster scandals – it is down to dislike of the existing political class, not a positive decision to support the party’s policy objectives. And, of course, UKIP is (much like the BNP) widely considered to be a single-issue party. People will make a positive choice to vote for UKIP because they want out of the EU (or for the BNP because they don’t like immigration), and it is the biggest party with that policy as a key pledge – I very much doubt they care too much about the niceties of the party’s other policies, not least because UKIP hasn’t got a hope in hell of gaining power.

    Of course, the same goes for votes for most other parties. Most voters vote either for negative reasons (“get rid of the Tories” in ’97, “get rid of Labour” in ’09/’10) or for small aspects of the party manifesto, which in 99% of cases they won’t have read. Hence so many Labour voters getting so disillusioned post-election when they discovered just how shitty a lot of Labour’s manifesto pledges have been…

  14. http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/865

    Former Soviet Dissident Warns For EU Dictatorship
    From the desk of Paul Belien on Mon, 2006-02-27 22:13
    bukovsky-1.jpg

    Bukovsky and Belien

    Vladimir Bukovksy, the 63-year old former Soviet dissident, fears that the European Union is on its way to becoming another Soviet Union. In a speech he delivered in Brussels last week Mr Bukovsky called the EU a “monster” that must be destroyed, the sooner the better, before it develops into a fullfledged totalitarian state.

    Mr Bukovsky paid a visit to the European Parliament on Thursday at the invitation of Fidesz, the Hungarian Civic Forum. Fidesz, a member of the European Christian Democrat group, had invited the former Soviet dissident over from England, where he lives, on the occasion of this year’s 50th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising. After his morning meeting with the Hungarians, Mr Bukovsky gave an afternoon speech in a Polish restaurant in the Trier straat, opposite the European Parliament, where he spoke at the invitation of the United Kingdom Independence Party, of which he is a patron.
    An interview with Vladimir Bukovsky about the impending EUSSR
    In his speech Mr Bukovsky referred to confidential documents from secret Soviet files which he was allowed to read in 1992. These documents confirm the existence of a “conspiracy” to turn the European Union into a socialist organization. I attended the meeting and taped the speech. A transcript, as well as the audio fragment (approx. 15 minutes) can be found below. I also had a brief interview with Mr Bukovsky (4 minutes), a transcript and audio fragment of which can also be found below. The interview about the European Union had to be cut short because Mr Bukovsky had other engagements, but it brought back some memories to me, as I had interviewed Vladimir Bukovsky twenty years ago, in 1986, when the Soviet Union, the first monster that he so valiantly fought, was still alive and thriving.

    Mr Bukovsky was one of the heroes of the 20th century. As a young man he exposed the use of psychiatric imprisonment against political prisoners in the former USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, 1917-1991) and spent a total of twelve years (1964-1976), from his 22nd to his 34th year, in Soviet jails, labour camps and psychiatric institutions. In 1976 the Soviets expelled him to the West. In 1992 he was invited by the Russian government to serve as an expert testifying at the trial conducted to determine whether the Soviet Communist Party had been a criminal institution. To prepare for his testimony Mr Bukovsky was granted access to a large number of documents from Soviet secret archives. He is one of the few people ever to have seen these documents because they are still classified. Using a small handheld scanner and a laptop computer, however, he managed to copy many documents (some with high security clearance), including KGB reports to the Soviet government.

    ….

  15. Well, you could have asked you know Clive. You do still know my email, no?

  16. Tim, if there was an unofficial pact, I suspect the last person whoever agreed it would want to tell within the organisation was yourself (because if there actually is I don’t think you’d stomach remaining n’est ce pas?).

    NM, neither are competing strongly in all wards, local elections are a hard fight for them (Lib Dems struggle to get enough candidates and they’ve significantly more members than the BNP for example).

    As you know, I come from UKIP central, one of their MEPs used to be a friend of my parents when I was a kid (shared interest that they gave up when my sister was born). I now live in BNP central. Completely different voting demographic, UKIP are most likely to pick up seats in Tory held areas (and thus will do better once Cameron is in power), BNP fight hard in neglected traditional Labour areas.

    Very little crossover—if they were competing in all wards then I’d suspect something, as it is, merely completely different targetting strategies.

  17. Nosemonkey,

    Why do you think people vote for Labour and Conservatives ? Because they agree with all their policies, or a tribalism and to keep the other lot out ?

  18. Robin, the answer is a mixture of all those reasons combined with a desire to “give the other lot a go”. The motivations given when this sort of thing is studied are varied and sometimes weird (people planning to vote for Cameron because Brown is “too right wing” for example).

    You can’t ever say “all voters for party X do so for reason Y” but you can give a broad generalisation of a common motive.

  19. The North/South divide doesn’t entirely work across the board in any case: in the Euro elections here last time the BNP got nearly 4,000 votes; UKIP got just over 1,000, when I would have expected it to be the other way round.

  20. Robin – much what Mat says. But also, increasingly now that all three major parties are fighting for the centre ground, I think there are nearly as many reasons for voting for a party as there are voters. Some (like me, mostly) vote based on the professed policies and perceived characters of individual candidates; some vote out of a desire to express their dissatisfaction with the government’s actions over the economy, schools, the NHS, whatever; some vote based on whether their local council run by party x is doing a good job or not; some vote; some vote through ideology, belief, or ingrained party loyalty; some vote out of a desire to stick two fingers up at the current perception of the Westminster gravy train; most, however, I reckon vote because the current lot (whoever they are) are seen not to be doing a good enough job – and then all the other factors previously mentioned will come into play in varying degrees based on the individual. And there are countless more reasons than that.

  21. Disappointing that you backed down so easily. A back-of-the-envelope (literally) calculation shows that the phi coefficient is about 0.05, i.e. that there is a very weak correlation between the BNP standing in a seat and UKIP standing there. Whether that is significant or not depends on what you would expect the correlation to be — if you think it should be higher, then the low value is evidence of collusion. What is required is some statistical evidence of the degree to which BNP voters are sympathetic to UKIP and vice versa. In the absence of that, the jury is still out.

    @Nick: the point is precisely that you wouldn’t expect the candidates to be randomly distributed, so something that looks like a random distribution is (arguably) in itself suspicious.

  22. Really people…

    They’re competing for the same votes.

    It could be an alliance, sure. Don’t you think, though, that they both want to maximize their potential number of seats with a small target and a small budget.

  23. If it is correct, as someone wrote above, there are 2400 seats in total, and the BNP are contesting c. 500, and the UKIP c. 500, then one can easily calculate:

    The BNP are contesting c. 20 % of the total seats.
    The UKIP are contesting c. 20 % of the total seats.

    In 20 % of 20 % (i.e. 4 %) of districts, BOTH parties run .
    In 16 % of districts, EITHER the BNP OR the UKIP run.
    In 80 % of districts, neither runs.

    Sixteen is 80 % of twenty. So if the UKIP and BNP dont contest each other in 80 % of the districts where they run, this is absolutely statistically correct – by random chance.

    Given that the data were correct, the conspiracy theory is nullified.