A Tory party that is spooked by UKIP is a Tory party that will lose the next election

1 May 2013

UKIP are buoyant and, all of a sudden, everyone’s favourite protest-group. In a curious way, the confirmation that many of their candidates really are boggle-minded, eyes-popped extremists of one stamp or another almost helps UKIP. It confirms that they’re not like the other political parties and encourages people to adopt them as the Sod it, I’m just mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more party. (These people tend not to be attracted to libertarian parties; just as well UKIP is not a libertarian party.)

But UKIP should enjoy this moment while they can. They will remain a presence on the political scene and they will fare splendidly at the next elections to the european parliament. Nevertheless, Farage-Mania seems likely to have a pretty short half-life. Its quite possible that I may be mistaken about this but it seems to me that the Tory reaction to UKIP’s successes this week will be more interesting than those successes. (Sorry, Kippers, but there you go.)

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That’s the subject of this week’s Think Scotland column:

There is no point winning votes on the disaffected right if those ballots are matched by lost votes from the horrified middle. Moreover, there is every possibility that, in general, UKIP’s supporters are disproportionately likely to live in safe Tory seats rather than in the marginals that will determine the outcome of the next election. It can hardly be stressed too often that where you win your votes matters almost as much as how many votes you win.

Furthermore, a rush to UKIP sends other signals too. First, it suggests a measure of panic in Tory ranks. Since voters can smell panic and tend to be unimpressed by parties that lack the discipline to hold their ground this is a worrying development in the first place. Secondly, however, it shows how the Tory leadership can be captured or blackmailed by minority or other special interests. That too demonstrates weakness and a lack of grip.

It is curious that Tory MPs who complain that coalition government has hurt the Conservatives are often the same MPs advocating an informal alliance of convenience with UKIP. There is a view, widely held in Tory circles, that the government cannot achieve its goals because the Liberal Democrats have the ability to “veto” vital parts of the Conservative agenda.

If this is the case – and the accusation has some merit – it is hard to see how the party’s fortunes could be improved by, effectively, allowing UKIP to dictate large parts of Conservative policy. This would, of course, be an informal veto but it would exist nevertheless and it would cramp the Tories room to move. A party forever glancing over its shoulder is ill-placed to keep an eye on the horizon too. Or, to put it another way, when the tail is seen to be wagging the dog you do not blame the tail, you blame the dog.

UKIP is not, in any case, a political party in the conventional sense. Though united by its essential euroscepticism, it is more of a persuasion or state of mind than a proper political party with a proper – that is coherent – agenda. Nigel Farage is a bonny fighter and a fine communicator but even he cannot camouflage the back-of-an-envelope nature of most of UKIP’s manifesto. Nor, to be fair to him, does he try. Everything except the anti-EU stuff is negotiable.

Which is fine. But it does rather reinforce the point that UKIP is more of a pressure-group (though one populated by people who despise “pressure-groups”) than a political party. It is, if you like, a gin-sozzled, right-wing version of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, albeit one that stands in elections.

This makes it dangerous, especially in less important mid-term elections falling at a time when voters are minded to give the government a good kicking. But it does not make it a serious force for the long-term. A party that is spooked by UKIP is not a party that is likely to be trusted with the government of the country after the next election.

In other words, UKIP’s gains this week are much less important than the Tory party’s response to those gains (and to Tory losses). If it’s nerve holds it can see this storm out; if it panics, breaks and run it will find the party routed in the much more important battles still to come.

Whole thing here.

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Show comments
  • thanksdellingpole

    What we really need from this party is:

    1. To get out of Europe
    2. Tax & regulation reform
    3. Sound energy policy
    4. English Parliament
    5. Scrapping of BoHR & H&SE

    If they can do that, especially point 4, then the’d have done well.

  • raymond francis jones

    Ukip did not betray Briton,UKIP wants Briton nrout back to its people,Ukip wants Briton put first not last.this is what makes ukip.The status of the normal political parties is with out doubt the status of traitors in the eyes and minds of ordinary Britons.

  • Mr Creosote

    “Gin-sozzled”…steady on old chap!

  • Daniel Maris

    You don’t seem to understand how history works, Massie.

    It’s not a question of hugging the middle. It’s a question of whether you are relevant or not. The wheels of history crush and dismember irrelevant parties. The problem here is that it is mass immigration (really the only important issue) though there is a connection) that is making the Tory Party “As Was” irrelevant. If a Conservative Party can’t stop your country losing its cultural identity then it has become irrelevant.

    It’s a similar story on the left. If Labour can’t protect the working class from job competition and the effects of globalisation, then it too becomes increasingly irrelevant.

  • nationalexistance

    I believe Scotland will take a keen interest in Thurday’s elections,especially if ukip does well.People in Scotland will see England moving further to the right in political terms and take it as further proof of the ever-widening political and social gulf between the two countries.It will be another step towards Scottish independence.

    • Wessex Man

      You’ve never heard of UKIP Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, oh dear, the Scottish UKIP have Nigel Farage to put in an extensive tour up in Scotland for the no campaign!

      • terregles2

        We have all heard of Farage. In fact we have heard of not much else in the last few weeks. It is just that not many in Scotland like his policies. It is just another reason why both our countries should be Independent of each other as

  • Latimer Alder

    It is simple. All the other parties seem determined to view ordinary voters as ‘the enemy’ – to be cajoled, persuaded, nudged, disciplined, fined or imprisoned if we fail to knuckle under to government policy however bonkers it may be.

    UKIP don’t.

    Vote UKIP

  • Hugh

    “there is every possibility that, in general, UKIP’s supporters are
    disproportionately likely to live in safe Tory seats rather than in the

    I suspect that means there’s every possibility they don’t. I’m struggling to identify a single verifiable fact or piece of evidence in this entire article.

    • Cumberland

      Agreed, his facts came out of the mist

  • George Igler

    Mr Massie there’s something you unsurprisingly fail to appreciate from your comfortable Scottish vantage point, which is this:

    For an increasing number of the English, their political establishment; which has enabled 1-in-3 Britons now being born to foreign born parents, and which has presided over first London and soon the rest of England’s major cities being minority territories for indigenes; is far more profoundly and appreciably “extremist”, to use your term, than the ramblings of two or three tin-foil hat wearing Ukippers who happened to answer the party’s email round robin asking for councillors.

    You see, the former has the virtue of crushing power, and the ability to impose its anti-democratic will upon us all; and also to destroy the lives and livelihoods of those who with just their opinions oppose it. Neither of these qualities are possessed by Adolf Blenkinsop of Fen Ditton, logging into Facebook from his mum’s basement, who isn’t and won’t ever be able to make everyone else in the country suffer for *his* brand of lunacy.

    Until the ladies and gentlemen of the commentariat get their heads around this awkward little chestnut — that there’s a tipping point beyond which people will care more about the negative consequences of what is being done to them, than the negative consequences of the derogatory names they are called for caring about it — then I’m afraid the real reasons behind political developments like tomorrow’s rout, will continue to elude and be totally incomprehensible to you all.

    The current political order, across Europe in fact, has grown utterly blasé by having everything its own way for far too long. But the times they are a-changing. And they have no one but themselves to blame for it. Am I the only person who thinks that our MPs were too busy flipping second homes, to pay close attention to what they were doing to the country to keep themselves in power?

    • Daniel Maris

      Clearly there are big trends across Europe. We aren’t the only country with large populations of immigrants (and their descendants) who are only tenuously connected to our political culture, our language and our liberal values. But the UK political class seems to have been particularly craven in surrendering the country.

      The rise of UKIP is a good thing – the bigger the political earthquake the better at this stage, because down the line there can only be civil strife and breakdown.

  • C Cole

    With respect, Alex, it’s hardly “all of a sudden”. Try reading below the line a bit more. Hopefully you’re right that UKIP’s appeal has gone mainstream – as Peter Oborne noted in the Telegraph the other day, anything that shakes up Britain’s cosy political consensus is to be welcomed.

    Oborne piece:

  • david.geddes1

    A none, nothing new to say, article. Troll bait.

  • James

    We don’t have a referendum on the EU because Cameron already knows the answer, which should indicate why UKIP are popular and more and more people are disliking the Lib/Lab/Con mob for not listening to the people that they are elected to serve.

  • allymax bruce

    Alex’, in your Think Scotland column, could you please write about the new Agreement between Scotland and RUK, on the new Sterling Zone; This is a brand new area of politics, that needs scrutiny; especially so, that I say to Scotland; Sterling Zone Agreement must have (1),No Levereged Debt. (2),No ‘user’ Tax; (like USA were conned into paying!) (3),The Agreement must be a continuation of the Sterling use, of Sterling owners, where Scotland is a part-owner, at no new terms & conditions. It’s in the best interests of all in these Isles, to not ‘fool-around’ with this Sterling Zone Agreement.

    • Wessex Man

      Oh go away you tirsome man to the Scottish daily Herald, this has nothing to do with the fat controller throwing another tantrum!

      • terregles2

        Whether you like or dislike Salmond one thing we have never seen him do is throw a tantrum. He is not a controller he is in fact the First Minister of Scotland and the only political leader in the UK who is in power with a majority of the popular vote.

  • Guest

    Another article that clearly doesn’t understand the rise of UKIP. UKIP voters feel abandoned by the political establishment as a whole not just the tories. The longer this goes on and the more success UKIP has the more likely its popularity will grow. Without the support of the traditional Conservative vote (who have left to join UKIP in large swathes) the Conservatives simply cannot win a majority at the next election.

    • Tom Tom

      So no doubt SNP will fade away and voters return to Labour ?

  • Bert3000

    UKIP won’t win many seats, but they’ll still tell us what a massive victory it’s been and how a tiny minority of the votes proves that everyone agrees with them

  • allymax bruce

    Oh-dear, Alex, your article smacks more of ‘pained-assertion’, than reasoned believability; dost thou try con thee & me?
    UKIP will pick up a mass proportion of disaffected traditional Labour voters, the traditional Tory vote, and the neo-conservative/neo-Labour votes. UKIP have a wide range of voter appreciation; and it’s all down to their policy of sticking two fingers up to EU.
    Labour imposed horrendous restrictions, constrictions, and laws on us, and that has come to be associated with EU diktat; the Conservatives have carried that on. And now the peasnats are revolting!
    Labour, plying Thatherite policies, sold-off all our ‘family-silver’, a commodity the EU ‘Fagan-brigade’ cherish more than gold; and plummetted us down into their New World Order, without our voting approval; we don’t want EU diktat; we never did. We don’t want Westminster governments telling us what’s best for us, when it’s actually what’s worst for us!.We don’t want Westminster Counterproductive policies on Education, NHS, Law & Order, Economy; these Counterproductive policies keep us plebs enslaved as commoditised serfs; and keeps yoos parasitic elites wealthy!
    It’s the Victorian class-system, all over again, but without a Marxian premise of Capitalism; where Marx was proscribing his theories of Capitalism, set against the Industrial Revolution. capacity to commoditise labour, (work), that manages the sustenance of the elites

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