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How important is climate policy to the rise of UKIP?

The Exeter energy blog looks at the rise of UKIP and wonders to what extent its success can be put down to its position on climate.

With yesterday’s county council election results now showing a big UKIP vote, today seems an appropriate time to note that the rise in UKIP support correlates pretty well with an increase in scepticism expressed in polls.

I have no doubt that climate and, in particular, energy policy is a factor, but I would have thought it was a bit esoteric for most voters. The feeling that the inhabitants of the Westminster village are just taking it in turns to do the same ineffective things has more to do with it IMHO.

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Reader Comments (48)

In my case - very important.

I'm sick to the back teeth with interference from Europe, ambivalent about the immigration debate and pro their education plans.

But it is their rational energy policy that tipped the balance for me. Liblabcon are taking us down a cul-de-sac with brio. UKIP will guide us to more senesible shores.

May 14, 2013 at 9:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

LA says it for me too.

May 14, 2013 at 9:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Isn't a UKIP vote a public rejection of things like IGov who the blogger works for. I think a lot of people are tired of the 'corruption' of the publically funded state and the fact they seem to be clearly doing things not in their own best interest.

"IGov is a four year research project aiming to understand and explain the nature of sustainable change within the energy system, focusing on the complex inter-relationships between governance and innovation."

May 14, 2013 at 9:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

IMHO, UKIP do not push the 'energy button' long enough + nor loud enough.

UKIP, should make promote their pragmatic energy policy much, much harder. IMHO - it is a vote winner because people have had enough of the green propaganda and are even less disposed to the unending rises with more to come on their domestic energy bills.

I think UKIP are missing a trick. Cheap power = jobs, cheap power = votes.

May 14, 2013 at 9:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

"The feeling that the inhabitants of the Westminster village are just taking it in turns to do the same ineffective things has more to do with it IMHO."

Yep, and whilst Cameron et al twist themselves into knots about a referendum, the other issues never get addressed - leaving UKIP an open goal. Lets hope they don't cock it up.

May 14, 2013 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

Athelstan: I posted about this before. From my contacts, UKIP will be increasingly pushing the pragmatic energy policy needed to stop the lights going out and stemming fuel poverty. They will be making energy policy one of their main platforms in the near future.

I have no doubt that scepticism of man-made global warming (aka climate change) is partly behind UKIP's rise, because it is the only party that sees climate change as the reason behind the dire energy policy we have from all three other main parties, who all have the green belief that climate change is "the biggest threat facing the country".

May 14, 2013 at 9:27 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

UKIP have a good man in Roger Helmer, whose video (made about 2000 I think) very much confirmed my suspicions about "Global Warming". Roger's regular letter from Brussels is excellent value, and while he was Conservative I always thought he should be UKIP, and was pleased when he "came over". I haven't read Godfrey Bloom on climate and energy, but if he's anything like Helmer, we are onto a winner.

May 14, 2013 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterGummerMustGo

In most of the areas where UKIP did particularly well, the key issue was clearly unrestricted immigration. In the Forest of Dean area of Gloucestershire, on the other hand, the high levels of support may well have been due to the unpopularity of wind turbines. Interestingly, Farage rarely bothers attacking climate science front on. He usually restricts himself to saying that he doesn't want the country covered in ugly wind turbines. This resonates in a way.

May 14, 2013 at 9:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

It has to be remembered that the Exeter Energy blog is a hotbed of climate change alarmism (out of Sussex Uni climate change alarmism). However, they are just green left-leaning activists, having no expertise. They hate the GWPF and are full of the use of the word "deniers". See

I think they are worried about the rise of UKIP and hope it will just fade away. I can't see that happening any time soon.

May 14, 2013 at 9:51 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Agree with Nicholas Hallam. UKIP emphasise what they are against (EU, windmills, immigration, high energy prices) and so there is something there that resonates with lots of voters.

May 14, 2013 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndyL

To the average Joe, Electricity and Gas bills are the climate policy that affects them most. The long cold winter with increasing bills in a time of declining wages,high unemployment, and a derisory return on hard-won savings concentrates the mind wonderfully.

May 14, 2013 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy Old Man

Concerning the correlation between the rise in the UKIP vote and the rise in climate scepticism, there is a weak causal link. Climate scepticism is part of the counter-consensus - an opposition to the prevailing views on a whole range of issues, including border control, energy policy, multiculturalism, the EU and the environment, where the established parties speak largely with one voice. The consensus is increasingly seen as having failed the country and UKIP benefits from this perception.

May 14, 2013 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

+1 for Nicholas Hallam's analysis.

May 14, 2013 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

UKIPs position was summed up by Peter Finch in the film Network:
"I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

May 14, 2013 at 10:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndyL

Athelstan: I posted about this before. From my contacts, UKIP will be increasingly pushing the pragmatic energy policy needed to stop the lights going out and stemming fuel poverty. They will be making energy policy one of their main platforms in the near future.

I have no doubt that scepticism of man-made global warming (aka climate change) is partly behind UKIP's rise, because it is the only party that sees climate change as the reason behind the dire energy policy we have from all three other main parties, who all have the green belief that climate change is "the biggest threat facing the country".

"the biggest threat facing the country"

I could not agree more Mr. Bratby - MMGW and the CO2 emissions limitation idiocy, the footling palliatives of the green agenda all adds up to what is an existential threat to the wealth and prosperity and therefore to the very future of Britain.

The 'green agenda' and those who advocate it, forthwith must be removed from power.

May 14, 2013 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Good stuff from Benny here:

The naive faith of policy makers that Europe’s main competitors would follow this shift from cheap fossil fuels to expensive green energy has gone up in smoke. In reality, most nations are completely unimpressed by Europe’s approach. Europe, the Washington Post recently warned, “has become a green-energy basket case. Instead of a model for the world to emulate, Europe has become a model of what not to do.”

"a model of what not to do"

Just as, Britain charges over the cliff and into the green energy inspired economic oblivion. Indeed - the political claque running Westminster should be dragged off to the assizes and to be had up for treason, economic sabotage - a deliberate betrayal of the welfare and economic prosperity of the British nation.

May 14, 2013 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

What a shame, then, as I’ve noted before, that no-one in the environmentalist movement, seems particularly interested. I wonder if it will be too late by the time they change their minds?

Dr. Matthew Lockwood, Senior Research Fellow with iGov

Future of the climate change act:

May 14, 2013 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

This statement almost gets it right, "UKIP support correlates pretty well with an increase in scepticism expressed in polls". Just substitute cost of energy for skepticism, particularly when demand for energy is higher due to cold weather, and there are no esoteric concepts that voters need to grasp.

May 14, 2013 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterSean

The recent elections were predominantly county elections, a large rural vote, where windmills are becoming a growing issue. I believe the UKIP anti-windmill policy gave them a few percentage points in the poll.

May 14, 2013 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Ashton

I'm fed up with the three main parties doing NOTHING to address the key issues facing the inhabitants of the UK, namely:-

Out of control immigration,
Out of control energy costs (mine have gone up almost 50%)
Out of control spending on benefits
Out of control application of Human Rights to Terrorists

So if someone offers to address these issues, why wouldn't the electorate respond?
You can't fool all the people all the time.

It amazes me that the Westminster village has deceived itself for so long on all these issues. Everyone, all ordinary folk, have known something has been wrong for ages. AGW alarmism has had it's day.

May 14, 2013 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohnOfEnfield

I've mentioned the Forest of Dean where UKIP did well and there have been wind turbine issues. The same is also true of Aylesbury, Sittingbourne and Sheppey, Thanet and Boston which were the other UKIP hotspots. There may be something in the idea that opposition to wind farms (whether on- or offshore) is behind the UKIP surge - though I think it is more an aesthetic than ideological issue.

May 14, 2013 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

"Leading anti-turbine campaigner David Ramsbotham, who was elected as a UKIP member of Norfolk County Council earlier this month, welcomed NNDC’s decision."

Wind in general, and the Kings Lynn incinerator lost Norfolk for the Conservatives. Rambotham got in on the back of the Bodham turbine. This is going to get worse for the two major parties before it gets better. All of a sudden there seems to be a way of hitting hard at people who are refusing to listen to you. Whether that is really so or not, that's the perception now. In Norfolk, its hard to see anyone being safe against UKIP. Even Lamb is probably at risk.

May 14, 2013 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered Commentermichel

The surge in support in Devon and Cornwall was mainly due to opposition to both wind and solar, which are huge issues in the rural areas, particularly with regard to the impact on the landscape and on tourism. As you drive into Devon on the M5 you are now beginning to see huge areas of what were once green fields covered in useless solar panels.

May 14, 2013 at 11:44 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Also wind farm issues in Essex at Clacton, Harwich, Thurrock and Basildon where UKIP won seats.

May 14, 2013 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

UKIP really need to bang on about the huge costs of "green" energy, in terms of what people have to pay for its subidy, its unreliability, bird-shredding and landscape blighting properties.

And for what? So Europe can bask in the warm glow of its moral superiority?

Unfortunately that warm glow will not prove effective in keeping people alive when the winter power cuts start.

May 14, 2013 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Sorry to say it , but can you trust a political party thats got Neal and Christine Hamilton suddenly joined it.

UKIP might just turn out to be another bunch of polticos on the make sadly.

Once we begin getting reasoned Climate dedate inside the mainstream Labout and Tory parties then we can start celebrating.

UKIP may have rocked the current poltical establishment but they are not a British Version of the Tea Party.

May 14, 2013 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

The immigration issue is a bit abstract if you have a public sector job and are not faced with direct competition for work and pay by those with poorer English skills than you.

My brother works as a snagger on building sites. The influx of non-English speaking immigrant labourers has cut pay, conditions and hours for domestic workers. Opposition to direct competition may be a sign of racism, xenonophobism and "little Englander" mindset if your job is taxpayer funded and secure. Lets open up the public sector to competition from uncontrolled immigration. English skills negotiable for the right discount.

May 14, 2013 at 12:30 PM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

At this moment UKIP have no need to open another front in the form of Energy and Renewables.
The EU front is providing enough discussion and internecine combat on the part of the Conservatives to keep that issue at the forefront of the electorate, whilst Labour and Liberals snicker from the sidelines, oblivious that their true colours too flutter limply at the masthead for all to see.
When Cameron's preposterous attempt to regain credence with the electorate has run it's shameful course and next winter's bills start trickling through, that will be time enough to pick up the energy stick and confront all three with the outcomes of their cupidity.
European elections first and then the biggie!
Can't wait. Go Nigel, GO!

May 14, 2013 at 1:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterroger

UKIP has stated that wind farms are for the chop. I take that to mean future developments. Subsidies would be reduced or removed.
So UKIP means lower energy costs and more work.

May 14, 2013 at 2:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

Another climate chicken comes home to roost for the hopelessly inept and economically ignorant Cameron.
How could he not see this one coming? Idiot.
Nigel has no need to attack when nemesis stalks abroad.

May 14, 2013 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterroger

Because most of us here on BH are focussed on energy, I think we may be projecting somewhat. I haven't lived in the UK for quite a few years now, but from the outside I see the EU and its effect on immigration as being the biggest driver of interest for the average voter.

Most northern European countries have a pretty big anti-EU/immigration party commanding 20% or more of the popular vote. Often, these parties have been created with such policies as a basic tenet and have seen growth from fringe status over the past 20 years even in the heavily social democratic countries of Scandinavia. The UK has not had this type of party before, probably because of the hold that the traditional parties had on voters. Perhaps the expenses scandals have finally moved people away from their major party loyalties.

May 14, 2013 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Potter

I'm a single issue voter. It's UKIP's stance on AGW that does it for me. At last, someone to vote for!

May 14, 2013 at 3:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterLen Fiske

In all the polls about what issues matter to the voting public, the environment typically is ranked last and Europe only a couple of spots above.

The recent apparent success of UKIP has a number of contributory factors:
1 - The coallition government is unpopular and borderline incompetent. Particularly, they are failing to revive the economy, but look dead set on just holding their course on austerity.
2 - Much of the electorate haven't forgiven Labour for getting us into this economic mess in the first place (and there are still a lot of the same faces in and around the Labour front bench that were there under Blair and Brown). And Ed Millipede hardly inspires voters as being a PM in waiting.
3 - There is no other obvious home for a protest vote (well, there's the Greens, but they are even more away with the fairies than the major parties).
4 - Personality. A large proportion of voters are just sick of career politicians who only speak in Party-approved cliches and soundbites. Too many PR guys and not enough real quality in the major players. Farage looks and sounds different and has got people interested.
5 - (Probably the first genuine policy issue): immigration / EU membership and the perception of too much control of the UK from outside parties (plus the Eurozone crisis).

At this stage, I think most of the electorate are totally unaware of the energy and environmental issues - other than on a few blogs, these are not getting any coverage beyond brief comments on utility costs and fuel poverty. Now if UKIP play their hand well regarding shale gas, renewables and energy costs (and the consequent improvements in the economy that these should realise), they could start to be a very credible alternative to the main parties - at the moment I think they are still a little bit 'fringe' and can be too readily characterised as xenophobic one issue politicians.

May 14, 2013 at 3:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan Blanchard

I voted for UKIP at the last GE specifically because of their stance on CAGW and energy. (I'm an ex-Labour voter by the way - very much ex!).

This issue is being ignored by the establishment of course but I think it could be a real game-changer in 2015. Imagine another long cold winter but this time accompanied by brownouts, blackouts and price rises. Imagine May 2015 being as miserable as this one. Imagine the other parties' response to this is more demand-management i.e. smart chips and smart meters. Could be a huge boost to UKIP at a crucial time.

May 14, 2013 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterstanj

I primarily became kipperised following the Climate Change Act, voting UKIP at every opportunity since. Its quite surprising how much support they had in certain pockets even as far back as 2009 (see link for East Sussex)

I doubt though that many supporters prime motivation was climate policy, but certainly a few. UKIP is, I am advised, keen to get some media exposure by spokespeople other than Nigel, including on energy policy. The problem is, due to years of climate propaganda, there is a danger that if they push AGW scepticism too overtly they will invite the obvious media onslaught and too many of the public may be swerved away by it. Best to capitalise on the widespread dislike for wind farms and concentrate on the damage to competitive industry by forcing it abroad, the rising bills, spoilage of the landscape, their futility to even have any tangible effect on global temperatures etc etc.

DECC is an open goal for ridicule anyway. Huhne was wildly unpopular and I think Davey's popularity ranking among the public is heading the same way.

May 14, 2013 at 4:56 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Although somewhat off topic, as well as all that's been said above, many voters voted UKIP because they did not want 'homo-marriage'. I stood for the council elections, got 33% of the poll with no canvassing, but people came up to me locally and told me they were voting for me (kind of scary!) and this issue was something they were absolutely fuming about.

May 14, 2013 at 5:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Foster

Pharos, this time round UKIP did very well in the Lewes area in East Sussex and may even be competitive there in a General Election if they can sustain present support. The same goes for the parliamentary constituencies of East Worthing and Shoreham, and Bognor Regis and Littlehampton in West Sussex where they gained 10 council seats. In Lancing, just a few miles along the coast from the Green city of Brighton and Hove, UKIP received nearly 54% of the vote.

May 14, 2013 at 5:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

From what I've seen of the views expressed by those who incline to UKIP, climate policy is not something that is mentioned at all frequently. I think the public at large simply have no knowledge of the greatly inflated energy prices that are in store for them in the future completely unnecessarily which derive from politicians' obsessive drive to demonise a harmless trace gas, plant food, before almost anything else. Of course those costs are not even listed on their energy bills and never will be because they must be hidden from view. At the same time the steady, incessant flow of climate religion propaganda from the BBC, every branch of government including education, and newspaper articles leads many to accept the basic tenets of the climate religion as facts of life so fundamental that no one would bother to take time out to question their veracity. If Joe Public had even an inkling of all the consequences for their lives, for industry, environment, employment, etc., he would probably freak out on the spot. Only then might UKIP policy on climate become a really significant factor in future elections.

May 14, 2013 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Reed


Can you trust a political establishment with the likes of Cameron, Clegg, Davey,Gummer,Yeo, Osborne, Cable, Milliband, Balls, et al., in it?

May 14, 2013 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Reed

Over the next 2 years, the consequences of the green energy policies in terms of cost and energy security are likely to become more apparent.

Ukip is way ahead of the field in appreciating this. No doubt in due course, as the case is made for them, they will start to give this issue more prominence.

The Ed Milliband, Huhne and Davey performance in DECC makes it difficult for the Lib Dems or Labour to follow them and they will no doubt try to continue blaming the energy suppliers rather than the Government tune the suppliers are dancing to. What the Conservatives will do depends much on how long Cameron lasts. Once he is replaced, they may be tempted to follow the Ukip line.

May 14, 2013 at 6:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterdave

As I have posted before there will be no meaningful economic recovery without affordable energy. The main worry for voters is the economy. UKIP need to make the very simple link between the stupidity of current energy policy and the stagnating economy. That is the angle they should push. Promising voters a reduction in their personal energy bills and a boost to the economy in reduced overheads is a win win. Phillip you have the ear of the man!

May 14, 2013 at 7:30 PM | Unregistered CommenternTropywins

There's been a lot of talk recently of the Warmists being on the run. I watched part of today's part of the Queen's Speech debate, fronted by Ed Davey. There wasn't the slightest hint that HMG, or any major political party for that matter, is doing anything but press ahead with dealing with what they say, even if not believe, are actions to deal with damaging climate change. I think we're stuffed.

May 14, 2013 at 7:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan_UK

I got at least one vote from gas prices; a man was just back from paying his gas bill and looked thoughtful when I told him what fracking had done in the US.

My thoughts on energy are on Facebook. I agree that it's going to be a biggy, especially when the conflict between cheap energy and green fanaticism becomes apparent.

When the lights go out, the government will follow.

Have a look at a way out: Google Trent 60 combined heat and power.

Julian Flood

May 14, 2013 at 9:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJulian Flood

I consider that it is likely that UKIP's energy policy will become an ever more increasingly important factor as more and more scrutiny is placed upon UKIP (all political parties have suggested that UKIP's policies should be scrutinized) and the public begin to appreciate how mad the present governmental policy is on energy and how much it is actually costing them.

Last week his grace posted an article covering an interview with the CEO/Chairman/Financial Director of SSE. I do not know whether many noticed but he said that the cost of supply accounts for only 50% of the bill total. The other 50% is accounted for by costs relating to green renewables and government policies with respect to house insulation and fuel poverty. he did not mention the costs of rolling out smart meters but that may be included in the 50% that does not pertain to the costs of supply. Of course, the costs of supply could be even lower if supply was predominantly from coal since that is the lowest costing form of energy generation.

It is no surprise that energy costs have doubled these past 5 or so years since 50% of your bill has nothing to do with the costss of energy supply, but are directly related to government energy policy. The UK government does not really have an energy policy. Instead, it has a green policy. That is why the department is no longer called the department of energy. It is the department of energy and climate change and unfortunately, those in charge are giving climate change paramouncy over energy supply considerations.

Did anyone see Ed Davey (the minister in charge) discussing the Queen Speach debate the other day? It appears to me that he is living in cloud cuckoo land. In my opinion many of his comments amounted to misleading Parliament.

May 15, 2013 at 9:16 AM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

Richard Verney - it doesn't matter if Davey's talking rubbish, if he's saying what the establishment and their backers and hangers on want to hear. I'm afraid that there's so much invested in the process that it'll never be turned round (a bit like the EU).

May 15, 2013 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan_UK


As you say, we are well and truly stuffed. At least until (and if) UKIP might be able to exert some influence on these demented clowns. And if that (somewhat improbable event) never happens, heaven help the lot of us. These people exist in a bubble which is insulated from the world in which a new little ice age threatens, almost 1,200 coal fired power stations are in the pipeline worldwide, thousands of OAPs die annually in ever increasing fuel poverty, global temperatures flatten and decline, total sea ice increases yearly, Met Office forecasts are a national laughing stock and countless billions are thrown away on infantile fantasies that heroic European politicians are saving the planet from mega climate death. Instead they inhabit a world of political imperatives. The only connection between their world and ours is they are able to impose their lunacy on us.

May 15, 2013 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Reed


I agree entirely. I just do not understand why more is not made of this 'Cost to the economy' issue. How Cameron has the face to go on (and on!) about cuts and savings with the billions being committed to green energy plans, I do not know - and still energy costs go rocketing up as well, effecting all areas of the economy. Surely the first issue to deal with in attempting to increase competitiveness.

May 15, 2013 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered Commentermiket

Climate alarmism is inseparable from windmillry & I think people appreciate that. In turn they are inseparable from the ever rising cost of electricity which is inseparable from recession and slow growth but I think this is less realised.

It may also be that if the established parties are seen to be telling us obvious lies this in turn affects perceptions on whether anything else they say can be trusted.

May 26, 2014 at 6:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

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