Neighborhood Nativism: The Role Of Context and Local News in the Uneven Rise of the United Kingdom Independence Party
Employing mixed-methods and nested analysis, this dissertation explains variation in the United Kingdom Independence Party’s (UKIP) results for the 2007, 2011, and 2015 local elections and is primarily engaged with ongoing debates in far right scholarship regarding the roles of economic and cultural grievances, as well as British debates about whether the rise of UKIP came at the expense of the Labour or Conservative Party. In its nested analysis, the dissertation combines a large-N statistical analysis of contextual determinants with a small-N media frame analysis and finally a single case study to fully explore explanations of variation in local election results. In broad terms, this dissertation argues that the electoral variation is explained, in large part, by a process of consolidation, which saw UKIP supplant rival far right parties as the primary electoral vehicle of the British far right and a second process of conversion, which saw UKIP benefit from an exodus of Conservative defectors that rapidly bolstered the party’s electoral fortunes. While consolidation occurred because of the in-fighting of its primary rival the British National Party, conversion of Conservative supporters occurred because of the rising salience of immigration in British politics, the contested ownership of the immigration issue between the Conservatives and UKIP, and UKIP’s ability to speak to the cultural grievances that Conservative Britons held regarding immigration. Aside from explaining part of the success of a party that played a key role in the events of the Brexit referendum, this dissertation also provides valuable insight into the Conservative Party under Boris Johnson given existing evidence suggesting that Johnson was successful in consolidating a majority of UKIP’s former support after the referendum and that Johnson has adopted far right positions on issues critical to the British and European far right.