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on 30 December 2014
If this book had been written by a couple of Fleet St political hacks with axes to grind - either for or against right wing polemics - it may have been given a rather more mixed critical reception. But you can't really argue with dispassionate academic analysis based on a range of verifiable polling statistics and other credible information sources. This explains why, as one commentator observed recently, the book is now being digested by every head scratching special adviser and election strategist right across the Westminster village.

The authors have clarified why many so people have loosened their ties and allegiances with the major parties, especially Labour and the Conservatives, both of whom are now perceived as mainly about pursuing and protecting the interests of their respective elites, big business and the politically correct metropolitan liberal minded chattering classes. The book identifies the various groups who now make up the so called "left behind" and thoroughly fed-up voters, including blue collar white working class people who were basically ignored by New Labour for 10 years, ex-Thatcherite "white van men" and others who feel that their sense of Britishness has been unfairly scorned and who never really bought into globalisation, European integration, multi-culturalism, and the benefits of unrestricted immigration.

The book is extremely good on UKIP's rise from a coffee house debating club to a major electoral force in British politics, their ultimate defeat of the BNP at local level, the internal fratricides, leadership changes and the development of grass roots campaigning and core messages about EU withdrawal, opposition to uncontrolled immigration and suspicion of the Westminster elites. That the authors' predictions about UKIP's continued rise during 2014 were proved correct - winning the European elections and more recently securing their first two MPs - is a testament to the book's place among the very best of political commentary in recent years.
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on 10 November 2014
I highly recommend this well-researched and evidence-based study of where UKIP came from, who is supporting them and why, as well as how far they may be able to go, particularly given the huge challenge posed to any new, insurgent party by the British `first past the post' electoral system. This is not a polemic. It's scholarly but it's definitely accessible to the general reader who is interested in politics and society. I felt that the authors very effectively concealed any personal feelings that they may have regarding UKIP and its rise. I found the book a little repetitive at times, but maybe this is an unfair criticism; it's a studious work that is at pains to be evidence-based, which maybe makes some repetition necessary.

The book, first published in March 2014, could already do with a little update, given that UKIP's support has since then again soared in the polls and they now have their first MP in Westminster, with quite likely a second to follow in the next couple of weeks.

One of the most interesting chapters, for me, was chapter 3, which looks at the social and political origins of this `revolt on the right'. The authors deal with the change, from around 1964 to the present, in the relative size of the middle class and the working class, leading mainstream political parties, both in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, to, on the whole, increasingly marginalise the traditional interests of the latter (strong state intervention to help those in need, redistribution, workers' rights, etc.), in favour of championing the concerns of the burgeoning and influential middle class (issues such as the environment, human rights, civil liberties and global social justice). In much of Europe, this had resulted in some of the left's traditional voters turning to the radical right from the 1980s onwards, but this, for the most part, did not happen in the UK until very recently, with a surge of support for UKIP, a group set up back in 1993 to campaign against European integration, and which only in the last few years seems to have discovered and tapped into this huge source of potential support (one of the ironies of course being that UKIP have no history of backing most of those policies which are in the economic interest of the working class, such as strong state intervention to help the less privileged, redistributive taxation, and so on, which leads Ford and Goodwin to make the very interesting observation that UKIP's working-class base is `conflicted'; its `head' is Labour, as this is where its economic interest lies, but its `heart' often lies with the social values of the Conservatives).

As an aside, it would have been helpful had Ford and Goodwin explained exactly what they were classifying as working and middle class, throughout the book and particularly in chapter 3. For example, they have a graph showing the decline of the working class since 1964, and it is stated that social class is measured using the Goldthorpe-Heath-5-category class schema, but I would have liked to know what jobs were being classified as working class and which as middle class. I struggle to believe that the size of the working class has declined in relation to that of the middle class to the extent that Ford and Goodwin claim, but of course this all depends on how you classify working and middle class. If you count only manual jobs as working class, which I think the authors maybe do, then yes, with de-industrialisation and the decline of manufacturing since the 1970s or 1980s, of course the size of the working class has declined drastically in relation to that of the middle class, but what if you were to classify say routine non-manual jobs (routine clerical work, call centre operators, etc.) as working class?

Having read this book, I feel better informed about UKIP and who is supporting them and why, although I cannot say that I was particularly surprised by any of its conclusions. If you're interested enough in the topic to be reading a review of the book, it's probably well worth your time reading the book itself. A lot of tables and graphs are included, so I don't know how well this book would work on the Kindle; I read the paperback version.
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on 19 October 2014
While it’s almost impossible to produce such a study without value judgements on the underpinning ideology and policies bring analysed somehow seeping through, this book makes pretty good stab at a dispassionate analysis of where UKIP votes have come from over time.
I love the analogy that up till now many had viewed the regular UKIP success in euro elections as: “like the mythical town of Brigadoon: it emerges from the mist for one day every five years, generates great excitement, but then fades from view again as soon as polling day passes”. However the authors make a convincing case that UKIP are now drawing not just on disaffected Conservative votes but a substantial disenchanted “left behind” blue collar vote that would previously have voted for Labour or even the BNP.
While many have seen this book’s statistical analysis as focusing too much on UKIP’s surprising mounting draw on blue collar Labour voters as a sort of wake up call to Labour that is somewhat unfair. The book also acknowledges the still significant UKIP draw on disenchanted Conservatives (while saying this maybe plateauing), its ability to gain from the collapse in BNP votes, and that they are also picking up votes from those who saw the Lib Dems as the plucky outsiders before they entered government.
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on 24 March 2014
I would urge readers to ignore the silly one star review above. This is a very balanced and nuanced view of the emergence of Ukip as a serious player within British politics. It traces the party from its emergence in the early Nineties to its current status as a serious player on the electoral scene that is riding high in the polls. Although based on detailed empirical social science research, using electoral data and surveys for example, the authors also seem to have talked to everyone that matters within Ukip itself. The book manages to be objective and scholarly but is also enlivened by some amusing anecdotes so it is far from 'dry' academic research. It also offers a powerful portrayal of the - normally working-class - voters who feel abandoned by the main parties and have become the bedrock of Ukip's support.

This is essential reading for anyone interested in the future of British politics.
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on 26 August 2014
...or how the Labour Party cynically abandoned its traditional working class supporters in search of middle class university educated voters.

This book clarifies why this Labour Party member has left the party. Worth reading to understand why many others have also.

It goes beyond the sneering medias view of UKIP supporters and shows a decent, honest and hard working people who have been patronized at best and ignored at worst by an arrogant cynical political class.
None of the "big three" come out well from this. Told in straightforward and readable prose backed up by figures.
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on 16 April 2014
Ford and Goodwin have produced an extensive and detailed volume on the novel political phenomenon that is UKIP. The degree and depth of their analysis far exceeds anything which has gone before, and this three hundred page book, published in the spring of 2014, could justifiably be considered the definitive work on the rise of UKIP as an electoral force in the twenty years following its birth in 1993.

F & G are keen to identify the types of voters attracted to UKIP, and to this end they make extensive use of statistical analyses to identify the typical UKIP supporter. Their thorough research leads them to dismiss the simplistic journalistic stereotype of UKIP voters largely as disaffected middle class Tories. Yes such people exist in the Party hierarchy, and yes the Party founders may have been of this ilk, but UKIP today is also supported at the ballot box by a very different kind of voter. Those who now vote for Nigel Farage are, on average, lower down the social scale than supporters of any other political Party including Labour. They are the disaffected, the elderly and those hit by the hard economic times. They are the old traditional working class and those who feel their country is morphing into something unrecognizable from the one they grew up in - and is much the worse for all that. UKIP supporters may have started out as EU refuseniks but to this campaign they have added many other anti-establishment woes. Foremost amongst these has been mass immigration, which surged during the Blair years and has continued at a high level ever since. And since all three major parties have been in power for at least some of this period, this has allowed UKIP to exploit its electoral message of ‘a plague on all your houses’ to the whole Westminster establishment.

A major theme of ‘Revolt on the Right’ is that UKIP has achieved success unparalleled by any other new British political party in modern times. Even the SDP/Liberal Alliance of the early 1980s, with its own MPs in Westminster, failed to sustain its campaign for as long as UKIP has done. The authors could however have made a little more of the explosive growth from political obscurity in the 1960s and 70s of the SNP and Plaid Cymru. And the celtic nationalists’ motivating sentiment of “we don’t want to be governed from far-away Westminster” surely has echoes in “we don’t want to be governed from far-away Brussels”.

In Chapter 6, Ford and Goodwin turn their attention to how UKIP could gain MPs in the 2015 General Election. Based on their extensive analyses of the beliefs, motivations and social backgrounds of UKIP voters they seek to identify those Parliamentary seats which hold most promise for the Party. Where are the traditional working class concentrated, where the elderly, where those with low levels of education? They identify what they claim to be the ten top prospects. But this is where they go wrong, and this is what reduces an otherwise five-star review to just three stars. For in drawing up their list, F & G should also have considered the electoral pull of the other Parties in each of these ten seats, and it is surprising that they have not done so.

In 2015 Labour will be on the offensive. It will be bouncing back from its historic electoral lows of 2009 and 2010. It will be gaining votes not losing them. There have for instance been sixteen Parliamentary by-elections since 2011. UKIP’s vote share may have gone up in fifteen of these but, critically, so has Labour’s in twelve. The Tory and Lib Dem votes by contrast have gone down in fourteen and thirteen respectively. So what are the authors suggesting as UKIP’s top ten prospects? Eight seats which are currently held by Labour and two by the Tories!
Ford and Goodwin had correctly identified the social and demographic factors most likely to lead to UKIP success. However, Parliamentary constituencies with these distinctive features are not just confined to Labour areas. All three Parties hold constituencies with these characteristics, so why would UKIP want to make its job more difficult? The strongly repeating voting patterns from the by-elections summarised above strongly suggest that the seats most likely to produce UKIP victories in 2015 are those which are true to the F & G formula but which, in addition, are currently held by MPs of the waning Conservative and demoralised Lib Dem Parties, and not those of the ascendant Labour Party. UKIP strategists will no doubt be planning accordingly.
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on 25 March 2016
Good insight into the party's early days and its efforts to distance itself from the extreme right wing parties, despite media insistence that "UKIP was just the same". It is anything BUT "the same". It is a radical alternative to the three main Establishment parties.

This book brought home to me the difference between ethnic and civic nationalism. The latter is what distinguishes UKIP from all other parties who argue for a managed immigration policy for the UK. Don't stop immigration, because we desperately need it, but control it.
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on 10 May 2014
UKIP has been described as many things: "The Conservative Party in exile" (Peter Osborne); "the BNP in blazers"; but David Cameron's "fruitcakes, gadflies, and closet racists", beats the biscuit. They are all in part true, so confusing to understand to the majority, and yet appear so poignantly obvious after two impartial scholars succeed in separating the myths and falsehoods from the truths and the realities. Unwittingly these comments have served UKIP, their leader Nigel Farage, the radical right, Robert Ford & Matthew Goodwin and their Revolt on the Right with unlimited promotion space in the run up to and throughout the current European, and local elections, as well as for Roger Helmer at the Newark by-election.

The party evolved from a single issue pressure group when it was founded by LSE lecturer Alan Sked twenty years ago, in September 1993, as a single issue party, like the Greens, into something else. For its political opponents and rivals, according to Tory fundraiser, Lord Ashcroft, UKIP's total fixation on Europe is pointless in the normal bread and butter domestic politics, as for him "people compare European elections to the Eurovision Song contest", and simply a vote means to "give Europe a slap" in the face. But if their vote has been thought "wasted", why did not the mainstream parties not do their job properly and attract people towards them, rather than stand back and make fun?

"Eurosceptism" has repeatedly been described as a white, middle class Conservative phenomenon, tied to Southern England, as the authors highlight throughout its history of booming peaks at Euro elections in 1999, and 2004 with the highly strung TV presenter Robert Kilroy-Silk, followed by the lean years of infighting and collapsing troughs in membership and financial support. UKIP discovered thereafter this generalization was incorrect, which these scholars surprisingly noted was not an exclusive British phenomena but a more general European one, with parallels starting earlier in the early 1980s in Belgium, France, Italy, Austria, and Denmark, in the Flemish Blok, the National Front, the Northern League, in the Freedom and Progress Parties, respectively. Indeed, the party's main support comes from the disadvantaged and insecure - the victims of social and economic change, alienated from a self-perpetuating elitist meritocratic establishment - the elderly white semi- and unskilled working class.

This, however, is still an incomplete analysis, as the traditional voice of the British workers, Labour, always had, as demonstrated during the 1975 referendum a strong Socialist / trades union Eurosceptic side. Ford & Goodwin, instead, are spot on when they state Blair's electoral winning formula of New Labour was to re-position it socially as a progressive organ led by and for graduates, middle class professionals who had moved out of the working class.By remodelling the party on such social changes,led the traditional white working class either to turn in themselves and abstain, or to look elsewhere for new willing protectors, seeing its establishment leader Miliband, son of a Belgian Marxist philosopher, no different to the wealthy public school educated Cameron or Clegg.

To grow rather than stagnate after the Euros, UKIP had to build itself, like smaller parties: the Lib Dems, the Greens, and the neo-Nazi BNP, into a more permanent grass-roots organization in key targets, with activists prepared to bring out potential supporters at local and national level. Since 2009 it has presented a socially conservative Eurosceptic message: no to Europe - uncontrolled migration from new member states, unstoppable under EU rules; no to a continuing Eurozone crisis in a weakened national economy; and no to Westminster - establishment politicians who never worked in a "real job" outside politics, who vote themselves high increases, cheat on others, while despite price rises the rest are urged to refrain from wage demands, and economise. In other words: enough is enough.

Cameron's air of Eurosceptic promise for an in-out referendum in 2017, and begs its support at the next General election in 2015 rather than for Europhile Labour and Lib Dems, does not appear to turn the head and hearts of former older Tories who do not distrust this leader, who prefers to appeal to young with modern touchy-feely ideas of gay marriage and costly climate change, and naturally is meaningless for ex working class Socialists. They are both a completely different breed.

In three years the outcome has been outstanding, and quite worrying to all mainstream rivals. More important, since the Lib Dems' entry into the coalition UKIP has played the clean opposition card the Liberals no longer hold: to oppose everyone in government. Support, thus, has tripled nationally from the 2010 General election from 3 to 10%; it has increased locally to 24% in 2013, with Parliamentary by-election highs reaching 14.3% against the Conservatives at Corby in November 2012; 21.7% and 24.2% against Labour at Rotheram and South Shields in November 2012 and May 2013, and higher still, at 27.8%, against the Lib Dems at Eastleigh in February 2013; and every success has generated a virtuous circle with further news items, comments, interest for UKIP, providing further support and greater notoriety for Farage, the former stock broker.

They have been able to wean away possible working class voters previously lured towards the rebranded anti-system BNP in its period of decline and confusion, as now a more successful UKIP without a past violent, anti-Semite credential can claim greater authority, responsibility and respect, something more acceptable and less embarrassing for families in North England of traditional Labour voters.

This, however, has first come with a down-side and a magnitude of slurs: since the party has been positioned by commentators within the "radical right", UKIP plus their ex BNP voters, and the use of the inflammatory, divisive poster in 2014 that shows a finger pointing at the British viewer, and a warning that 26 million EU migrants are looking for work and potentially competing for his job, is a proof of the party's racist tendency, debases language, trivializes the concept, and purposely confounds the understanding of inexperienced young and less informed elder electors between historical truth and fiction. And the culprits - UKIP? Nope, the commentators! Furthermore, secondly, the authors have shown the party has been unable to break in and gain support from young women - considered as the BNP a men's only club, or enthusiasm from ethnic communities (Africans openly portrayed by one party spokesman as coming from "Bongo bongo land") despite photo-opportunities with groups of Afro-Asians meeting Farage on stage during the May elections.

My sole small criticism is the authors' use of the term "radical right" in the title, something sloppy, as it pours UKIP and the BNP into the same cooking-pot - which both authors, and especially Goodwin with one book to his credit on the BNP New British Fascism: Rise of the British National Party (Extremism and Democracy), know is incorrect and grotesque. These two distinct political parties should in fact be distinguished by the presence or absence of a single word, "anti": the former, UKIP, firmly within the umbrella of the "modern democratic right", the latter in the "modern anti-democratic right", and explains why Farage has still difficulty in cooping in the European Parliament with Marine Le Pen's FN, or Alessandra Mussolini, and distances himself in Britain from any local electoral pacts with Griffin's BNP.

On a more serious note, Ford & Goodwin conclude rather weakly with 2015-17, as it is the deadline of Cameron's state of British/ European politics. Will a Conservative victory in 2015, followed by a yes / no vote to leave the EU mean the end of UKIP? The authors state if it still tries to agitate for exit when the people wish to remain they risk looking like out-of-touch obsessives, whereas if the people decides to pull out they have no reason to continue to exist. This is wonderfully argued by academics for their scholarly environments about a single issue party, but not for a politician. They should first think of all independent parties, and in particular to Salmond and the SNP in Scotland - every stage whatever the result forms the preconditions of the next, and, most of all, the members of UKIP who no longer view it as a one issue party. The future, as of Nigel Farage, fortunately, is still in their hands, not in those of the commentators, much less in those of the authors.

This book is an excellent piece of research for any politics student at university, for any teacher teaching A Level pupils, as well as for misinformed journalists or bigoted political commentators wishing to unlearn some incorrect facts. It is not a comprehensive book for the rank and file of the party even if leader Farage is not critical of it, nor is it a simple textbook. It is a readable book of the life and state of UKIP today for Britain and Europe's tomorrow.
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on 8 August 2016
Excellent book by Ford and Goodwin, thoroughly recommended, read this along with the followup book "UKIP: Inside the Campaign to Redraw the Map of British Politics", to understand a deep, insightful analysis of the rise of UKIP and it's transformation from a single-issue (leave-EU) protest group to a populist party with at least 3 issues (anti-EU, anti-immigration and anti-politicians):-). The core insight is that the transformation of the UK's economy and society over the last 40-50 years has left behind a significant minority of disadvantaged and disconnected older, white, less educated, financially struggling, working class people (mainly men) - as many Old Labour as traditional Tories - who UKIP has successfully connected with. Post-Brexit, this is an important part of the explanation for why the UK has chosen Brexit.
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on 24 April 2014
This is a very readable and well-written history of the rise of UKIP, which debunks a number of myths about where their support is coming from. There are lots of tables, which are a bit of a pain on the Kindle, so I might advise getting the print version. Recommended reading for all the journos who continue to regard UKIP as a mix of disgruntled middle class Tories and the 'BNP in blazers'. Has exemplary use of logistic regression analysis - but don't let that put you off as it's mainly in an appendix!
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