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Can UKIP save Brown?

Farage Christopher Booker writes this morning that UKIP may be on the verge of bankruptcy but The Observer reports that "a private analysis by Labour strategists suggests that in marginal constituencies, even a few hundred extra votes for UKIP could frustrate Tory challengers trying to take the seats." The piece continues: "One cabinet minister cited UKIP as among the most important factors in the battle for a hung parliament, telling the Observer it could "cost the Tories 50 to 60 seats"."

The Labour analysis is based on one hundred "supermarginal" seats where the majority is less than 2,000.  Given the current state of opinion polls I can't see a few hundred UKIP votes saving Labour in these seats.   My presumption would be that those seats are already safely in the blue column if public opinion does not shift back to Labour for reasons unrelated to UKIP.

It is clearly a Labour tactic to talk up Europe as an issue. The new Europe Minister Chris Bryant MP chooses an interview with The Sunday Telegraph to describe David Cameron's position on Europe as a "deception":

"I think your readers will end up feeling deceived by Cameron over the question of a referendum. I would lay a very big wager that they will be very disappointed if there was a Cameron government because they wouldn't end up having a referendum."

William Hague has promised to announce a new Tory position on Lisbon on the day that it is ratified - bringing definition to the "we won't let matters rest" holding position.  Ratification does appear inevitable after the Czech President Vaclav Klaus surrendered his opposition.

Tim Montgomerie

1.15pm: UK Polling Report's Anthony Wells isn't impressed with The Observer's story:

Picture 5 "The Observer’s article has that old canard that UKIP cost the Conservatives 27 seats at the last election, if one starts from that basis, 50 seats sounds entirely plausible with a higher level of UKIP support. Unfortunately, it’s rubbish. Firstly, it’s only actually 24 seats where the majority over the Conservatives in 2005 was smaller than the UKIP vote (the 27 comes from lumping Veritas in with them). Secondly, for the Conservatives to have won all of them they would have had to win every single vote that went to UKIP. In reality, some UKIP voters are people who would otherwise vote Labour or Lib Dem. A large chunk of UKIP’s voters are people who probably wouldn’t vote at all in the absense of UKIP or an alternate fringe party to cast a protest vote for. I’m pretty certain that UKIP take more people who would otherwise vote Conservative than people who would otherwise vote Labour, but once you also take out people who wouldn’t vote, or would vote for another minor party, the difference won’t be massive."

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