Thursday, November 29, 2012


Top Tories Reject UKIP Pact, Despite its Ominous Progress

It's been a good week or two for the (unfortunately) irrespressible Nigel Farage and UKIP; its progress has been one of the more interesting aspects of our polity over the last few months. It wasn't just the bouffant haired Michael Fabricant who has suggested an electoral pact with UKIP, Daniel Hannon, the Tory MEP has also mooted the idea, fearful that the pincer movement on its rightwing might drag enough voters away in 2015 to deny his party the overall majority they so crave. Certainly the mood of the nation is propitious, with over half favouring withdrawal from the EU in a recent poll.

Fabricant, favourite butt of Simon Hoggart sketch jokes, thinks such a pact will haul in up to 40 seats which might otherwise be lost. The psephologist John Curtice thinks this an exaggeration: He thinks 7% of those who voted Tory in 2010 would now vote Farase, partly, he argues because such disillusioned folk could not dream of voting Green or BNP, so it has to be UKIP which has now equipped itself with a more comprehensive rightwing set of ideas. After polling over 14% in the Corby by-election, it would be fair to reecognise UKIP has left the fringe and joined the mainstream, regularly now polling more than the Liberal Democrats.  

However the suggested pact was dismissed with some disdain by the Daily Telegraph and the rest of the  Tory high command. Party chairman Grant Schapps was unequivocal:

   : "I want to win the next election outright of course for the Conservatives so that we have an outright majority and we don't have to be in coalition. But I want to do that with Conservative candidates fighting and winning on their own ground and on their own terms and that is exactly what we are going to do. So I can categorically rule out any form of electoral pact with Ukip or anyone else."

According to the Economist, despite the surging poll ratings, all is not necessarily well in the UKIP camp:

"UKIP’s growing media profile obscures the complex psychodramas and organisational chaos below the surface. A former adviser describes a hollowed-out structure with few engaged members, opaque finances and little internal democracy, ascribing the party’s successes to “force of charisma, standing out from the dullards and being in the right place at the right time”. Nikki Sinclaire, an MEP who resigned the party whip, describes it simply as “Stalinist and unprofessional”.

However, despite the disdain and the possible 'Stalinist' ambience (I I can imagine Nigel is a difficult man to disagree with), I reckon Mickey Fabricant's cunning plan might well be dusted down as 7th may 2015 approaches, and if the outcome is in doubt, looked at much more favourably. In extremis the Tories are always nothing if not ruthlessly pragmatic. 

I love the Economist's take on the matter...“force of charisma, standing out from the dullards and being in the right place at the right time” nothing perhaps to do with, perish the thought, that the British public actually like some of UKIP's ideas? I don't think an electoral pact is needed or likely. But the Tories ignore UKIP's development at their peril. The solution is obvious...a clear and unambiguous promise to hold a referendum as soon as possible. Europe has become something the British people never voted for and never wanted. Its economic failure and lack of political leadership have exposed those who claim UKIP are 'the fringe'. On the contrary...those who advocate withdrawal from the European shambles are now the mainstream, and eventually they will get their way. Let's hope that Tory establishment realises this and Dave gets on board before it's too late.
Agree euro-scepticism is now mainstream sentiment but not sure I believe they would win the 'out' vote. Also agree Tories will have to pledge to an in-out referendum to spike UKIP's guns especially after their showing in yesterdays' by elections.
I'm not completely sure they would win an Out vote either...although the European response to its crisis makes it increasingly likely. And I would accept if they didn't. But there is a clear and rational moral and political case for consulting the people at this point of our relationship.

The EU would never have been popular with the British people, but there was a general acceptance that being in it made us more prosperous (I have never really believed this, but the mainstream did)...most middle-of-the-road types accepted our need to be in the club on this basis. But the last five years has seen Europe lose the initiative. A genuine case can now be made to say that we are economicaly better of out(with mutually benefitial trade). There has been a clear change in mood...Dave should be careful not to ignore this. The people need leadership, and Dave must follow(!).
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