A major YouGov survey put Ukip ahead in popularity among blue-collar and manual workers, with 23 per cent of working class respondents backing the pro-Brexit party, compared with just 20 per cent for Labour, who traditionally are said to represent the interests of the working man and woman.
Coming top of the poll were the Conservatives on 39 percent.
Amongst voters of all socio-economic groups, the Tories were found to be in the lead with 40 per cent, while Ukip was second on 30 per cent.
Ukip leader Paul Nuttall at a rally in Stoke
Labour was in third on just 14 per cent and the Liberal Democrats on a mere 11 per cent.
Ukip MEP Gerard Batten, the party’s spokesman on Brexit, said: “Labour stopped representing the working class a long time ago.”
The result will be welcomed by Ukip leader Paul Nuttall who is standing as the party’s candidate and has strong hopes of taking the once safe Labour seat.
UKIP MEP Paul Nuttall visits the Roma ghetto in Sofia
Wed, February 1, 2017
Fakulteta district of Sofia, Bulgaria where 55,000 Bulgarian romas live in exteme poverty
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Roma children lie in squalor as they cry for food
Labour stopped representing the working class a long time ago
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Ukip MEP Gerard Batten, the party’s spokesman on Brexit
The polls indicate that Mr Nuttall will become the party’s second MP in the House of the Commons on February 23.
Stoke was strongly pro-Brexit in the recent EU referendum with nearly 70 per cent of voters opting to leave the bloc.
The by-election was called after the Labour MP Tristam Hunt quit over the party’s leadership under Jeremy Corbyn.
The results of the survey come after a close ally of Mr Corbyn, Paul Mason, was filmed telling an audience in Hackney, London: “They’re not working class Tories… most of the UKIP people are either people who haven’t voted or have flipped in a radical way from Labour. They are toe-rags, basically.
“They are the bloke who nicks your bike.
“No, seriously, that’s who it is, it’s the bloke who does all the anti-social things.“
Labour candidate Gareth Snell on the campaign trail in Stoke
A Ukip spokesman said: "Paul Mason has lifted the lid on what the radical left think about long time Labour voters who have lost faith with that party and moved across to UKIP.
"He thinks they are ‘toe-rags’, presumably for feeling a sense of patriotism, for feeling concerned about open door immigration and for supporting Brexit.
“Any voters who care about these issues but were pondering whether to still vote Labour have their answer.
"Mr Mason and the radical metropolitan left think they are scum. We in UKIP understand and share their concerns and will always treat them with respect.”
Labour candidate Gareth Snell was forced to apologise yesterday after Ukip unearthed various old tweets he had made which insulted various women.
Gareth Snell ranted at “squabbling sour faced ladies” a “stupid woman” and a “speccy blond girl” appearing on television who he told to “p**s off”.
Paul Nuttall, the candidate for Ukip in Stoke Central
Last night Mr Snell said: “I regret these tweets.
“They were from years ago when I was tweeting along with TV programmes but nevertheless.
“I shouldn’t have tweeted those comments and I apologise for the offence they have caused.”
The Ukip campaign has also come under fire after the party’s immigration spokesman John Bickley retweeted a mocked-up poster for Stoke which read: “If you want a jihadi for a neighbour, vote Labour.”