Ukip ‘replacing Tories’ as natural challengers to Labour

Ukip are replacing the Conservatives as the natural challengers to Labour in marginal seats across the country according to new polling conducted for the party.

In the key marginal of Thanet South in Kent, the Conservative party are set to lose the seat to Labour with Ukip coming a close second, according to the first of eight new constituency polls.

The poll of 500 people conducted by Survation, found that Labour would regain the seat with 35% of the vote, with Ukip close runners up on 30%.

The Conservatives meanwhile would drop 20 points to just 28% leaving them in third place.

Labour previously held the seat between 1997 and 2010.

Ukip hopes the polling will dispel suggestions that they will split the Conservative vote in 2015. Seventy-eight per cent of Ukip voters in Thanet South say they would refuse to vote Conservative even if Ukip didn't stand.

Fifty-two per cent also said they would stick with Ukip even if it meant Ed Miliband became prime minister.

"This whole analysis that the Ukip vote purely damages the Conservatives' chances simply isn't true," Nigel Farage told the Today Programme.

"Ukip is getting itself now into a position in some of the marginals where it is in a serious position to win a seat in parliament and not just to split the vote."

He denied the party would make it easier for Labour to win in 2015 and therefore deny voters a referendum on membership of the European Union.

He said he had "absolutely no doubt" that Labour would reverse their opposition to a referendum in the run-up to the European elections next year.

Today's poll is the first of seven constituency polls to be released by the party, which they claim will show them emerging as serious challengers to Labour in the North of England.

Details of the Thanet South poll were released after the local Conservative MP Laura Sandys announced her intention to stand down at the next election.

Farage is rumoured to be considering standing in the seat.

"We believe that fear of having Nigel Farage as an opponent in 2015 would have been instrumental in her decision," a Ukip spokesperson said.