Ukip’s crisis is the Conservatives’ gain. Following Nigel Farage’s comments about ‘ostentatious’ breastfeeding, Conservative HQ have been promoting this graphic online, with a title noting that Farage is ‘making it up as he goes along’:
This kind of graphic is just another example of how the Tories have become more proactive in promoting their point of view on social media over last year, using Twitter as an opportunity to attack others while protecting their position. This Farage one is an example of both: it hits out at Ukip for their perceived flakiness — expect to see much more of this in the coming months — while reminding voters that Ukip also has a problem with female voters.
It’s often said that the Conservatives and David Cameron have their own ‘woman problem’ — which Isabel wrote about earlier this year — but as YouGov’s Anthony Wells explains here, Ukip has deeper issues with attracting female voters. Whereas their polling suggests that men and woman of all ages are equally likely to vote Conservative, there is a clear gender gap over voting Ukip:
‘While overall Conservative support amongst men and women is the same, with young people they do worse amongst women, with older people they do worse amongst men. The most likely explanation for the over 60s is the UKIP effect – UKIP support is skewed towards older men, so the Conservatives have likely lost more old men than old women. Amongst younger people the difference does seem to be between Labour and the Conservatives – either the Tories are failing to appeal to younger women… or Labour are failing to appeal to younger men.’
So by promoting these kinds of graphics, the Tories can helpfully remind female voters that Ukip may be the more egregious option. Remarks from the Prime Minister’s spokesman yesterday, again lambasting Farage about the breastfeeding affair, also highlight this strategy. Whether this is successful depends how long the saga remains in the public eye. But given there is a protest planned at Claridge’s today, the Tories might be able to squeeze a little more political capital out of Ukip..