The ‘balance of electoral support’ could be shifted in seven Labour seats in South Yorkshire - if the Ukip and BNP vote combines, new research suggests today.
Rotherham, Wentworth and Dearne, Barnsley Central, Rother Valley, Barnsley East, Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough and Doncaster North were among the 25 constituencies in which the combined Ukip and BNP vote was highest in 2010.
New research from The University of Sheffield challenges the idea Ukip poses the greatest threat to the Conservative party on general election polling day in May, and claims Labour may have as much or more to fear.
The report says Ukip is likely to benefit from the demise of the BNP.
The far-right party is standing eight candidates nationally, including one in Rotherham, this year compared to 339 in 2010.
In the 25 constituencies with the highest combined Ukip and BNP vote, Labour won all but four seats and currently holds all seven of those in South Yorkshire.
Dr Craig Berry, deputy director of the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute, said: “It is fair to say that, if the Ukip and BNP support combines in these seats, and helps to create more momentum for Ukip’s campaigns in these areas, then it does alter the balance of electoral support in ways that are not predictable.”
But the research says a combined vote does not mean Ukip will necessarily win a large amount of seats from Labour - but it could be the key to other parties getting in.
He added: “A significant swing of votes towards Ukip from Labour may not lead to Ukip winning a large number of seats in these areas, but could alter the balance of support so other parties are able to challenge Labour more effectively.”
The report highlights a link between deprivation and support for Ukip.
Rotherham had the second highest vote for Ukip and BNP in the country, at 16.3 per cent in 2010.