Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage's Ukip might appeal to a third of votersBBC

Ukip leader Nigel Farage's claim his party is on the verge of creating a "political earthquake" in Britain has been given powerful backing by a survey suggesting 30% of voters could be receptive to the party's message.

The survey, by academics Dr Robert Ford and Dr Matthew Goodwin for their book "Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain", shows Ukip's three big "antis", on Europe, immigration and the established parties strikes a chord with large numbers of voters.

Perhaps more significantly, however, the survey identifies a group of "Left Behind" voters who are most likely to support Ukip.

Co-author Dr Matthew Goodwin says this group consists of: "old, working class, men, with very few educational qualifications. These are voters who hold a very different set of values to the professional, middle-class majority: they are far more nationalist, Eurosceptic, fiercely opposed to immigration and feel like they have no voice in politics. They look out at a country their neither recognize nor want to be a part of".

There has been a growing recognition that Ukip could take voters away from the other parties as well as just the Tory party, and the "left behind" group would also include traditional Labour voters, albeit ones who have become disillusioned with the party in recent years.

Where the party fails to win support, however, is among university graduates, the young or to ethnic minorities.

The survey comes as attentions is being focused ever more closely onto Ukip as the European elections approach.

The media have identified mavericks, such as "Slutgate's" Godfrey Bloom, within the party and the Times newspaper paints a picture of a party HQ described by Farage's wife, Kirsten, as a "freak show.

It claims one aide brings her cat to work, another sits with an "Orgasmatron" wire massager on her head, and claims there is a white board on the Mayfair office wall with a list of "people we want to shag", loyally including Farage's name.

According to the report, one former employee said: "You see the most extraordinary things. Everybody has been out with everybody else. There are animals in the office, people taking their clothes off...there are no sanctions."

It is also claimed the party's Euro MPs are asked to pay a £10,000 "tithe" to the HQ which they can afford because of their "generous expenses" from Brussels.

All this just goes to prove that the "establishment" Farage rails against is taking his party seriously and is determined to put it under closer scrutiny.

Farage has recognised the issue and has introduced a new pledge to be signed by all would-be candidates declaring they have no skeletons in their cupboards.

There is a widespread view that Farage presents a clubbable, charismatic front to his party that does not reflect the reality of the wider party and its membership.

So attacks on Ukip will undoubtedly intensify between now and the European elections in May as the "establishment" parties and others attempt to reveal what they believe is the true face of Ukip.

Few doubt Ukip will poll well in the Euro elections, perhaps even winning. But such a result could easily be put down to a traditional protest vote of the sort that would normally have gone to the Liberal Democrats who are now part of the establishment so will not benefit.

What cannot be determined with any certainty at the moment, however, is whether there will be ongoing support for the party running up to the general election when voters will chose a government and prime minister.

What the latest survey suggests is that there is plenty of potential and it must be up to Farage to seize the moment.