It is well-known that, in the last few years, UKIP has gained considerable popularity among individuals who want less immigration. For example, a 2013 YouGov poll found that 98% of UKIP supporters thought that the last Labour government let in too many immigrants. In addition to being anti-immigration, UKIP takes a strong position against the EU. Consequently, UKIP is widely regarded as a right-wing party.
However, evidence from public opinion suggests that classifying UKIP may not be quite so simple. Here I present data on the economic views of UK adults broken down by voting intention, from two YouGov opinion polls. The first, carried out in 2013, concerns price controls and government ownership of industry. The second, carried out in 2014, concerns the top rate of income tax.
The chart below displays percentage support for price controls by voting intention. Each cluster of bars corresponds to a different industry, and each bar represents a different party. Unsurprisingly, Conservative supporters are the least likely to support price controls, while Labour supporters are the most likely. Interestingly, however, UKIP supporters are the second most likely to support price controls; in all four cases, they are closer to Labour than the Conservatives.
The next chart displays percentage support for government ownership by voting intention. Conservative supporters are the least likely to support government ownership, while Labour supporters are the most likely. Yet once again, UKIP supporters are the second most likely to support government ownership; they are closer to Labour in three out of four cases.
The final chart displays percentage support for raising the top income tax rate by voting intention. Conservative supporters are the least supportive, while Labour supporters are the most supportive. Here UKIP supporters come about half-way between Labour and the Conservatives, in fact falling slightly closer to the Conservatives. When asked about simply raising the income tax, UKIP supporters are the third most supportive, yet when asked about raising the income tax under an assumption of no additional revenue, they are the second most supportive.
These results suggest that characterising UKIP as a right-wing party is simplistic at best. While it is not exactly clear where UKIP lies on the political compass, the case for putting it in the libertarian-right quadrant is evidently quite weak. A major caveat, of course, is that the views of UKIP supporters may not reflect the policy agenda of UKIP itself.