THE BLOG

Is the Ukip Engine Running Out of Steam?

31/08/2015 19:24 BST | Updated 31/08/2016 10:59 BST

Since May, the buzz around the party that took close to four million votes but only one seat seems to have been fading away. In an article for The Telegraph explaining his reasons for staying on as leader, Nigel Farage wrote that "the fight starts here". However, considering the state of the party and recent polling, some are now left questioning whether 2015 was Ukip's peak. Is the Ukip engine running out of steam?

Unlike the other opposition parties, there has been no bragging of a membership boost following the election. Meanwhile, those that remain in the party, for which emails asking for donations have come in thick and fast, seem far less enthusiastic than prior to May. One of the best achievements for Farage's party in May was the gain of Thanet council, which is already appearing fractured and split. Last week, four Ukip councillors issued a statement branding council leader Chris Wells "a liability", arising from a row regarding a compulsory purchase order for Manston airport.

Back on a national level, the party has a suffered from far less coverage in the media since the election. Nigel Farage's campaign launch at the beginning of the month was given little attention until a major donor criticised Ukip for attempting to turn the 'No' campaign in to a "blatant Ukip front operation". Even when scandal hits, the headlines remain far away from Ukip. Last week, a Ukip candidate in a Welsh council by-election was dropped after suggesting that immigrants should be "gassed" - the story barely made the local evening news. Be it positive or poor, the party is receiving only a fraction of the attention and publicity it had prior to May.

Opinion polls have been far from promising for Ukip too. A national Comres poll published last week shown Ukip slip further to 9%, their worst share since February 2013. In a late June YouGov poll for next year's Welsh Assembly elections, Ukip remained firmly in fourth place for both the constituency and region polls. The party will be hoping for a much better result come next year's election, especially considering efforts earlier in the year to pose Wales as the party's "next target". Meanwhile, efforts to push the Brexit cause seems to have struggled to find momentum too - since the announcement of the referendum question, the best opinion poll result for Farage saw the 'no' campaign trailing by 7%, the worst was a 44% margin.

Council by-election results since May will cause even further concern for Farage. Since the general election, Ukip has contested 24 council seats that they have previously fought - in all but one, the party's share of the vote has fell. The worst result saw a 24% decrease of share in a Cornwall seat, in comparison to the last time the election was held in 2013. The only positive result saw an increase in Glasgow Craiton to 1.9%, in comparison to 0.9% in 2012.

The forecast is looking dim for Ukip. If the opinion polls and by-election results translate into a poor display during next May's Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament elections, it could be time for Farage's era at the helm to come to an end.