Nadine Dorries has given an interview to The Spectator this week in which she reveals that she will be holding talks with her constituency association about a joint Tory/Ukip endorsement for the 2015 election. She tells the magazine ‘I will be having that kind of conversation with my association’, and adds:
‘There are members in my association who approached me recently who are confused. They have always been Conservative and will never change their allegiance but feel very much as though they have a huge amount of empathy with Ukip. I feel it would be a travesty if Ukip came in and took the seats off our councillors or indeed me when actually their policies and their beliefs are very much Ukip. Because what we have done, we have thrown clothes off and they have picked them up and put them on.’
She also draws parallels between the state of the Conservative party now and its fortunes in 1997:
‘[Voters] hated us because the Labour party promise, the vision, the song “Things Can Only Get Better” had a purchase on people’s imagination, and in their hearts that I see being replicated by Ukip today.’
Her fear is that the disastrous consequence of Ukip’s rise will be a Labour government. The party needs a strategy to prevent that.
If her association agrees, and Ukip also agrees to endorse her, she could be the first Conservative MP to bear two badges on the ballot paper, and her actions will surely embolden other MPs who believe the arrangement could save their skins. She says a dozen other Conservatives have told her they agree with her idea. It would be very difficult to discipline an MP who has already arguably suffered unfair treatment which angered many backbenchers. The chances are that, as with many other policies, David Cameron will have to catch up with his party on this.
Dorries is probably the most interesting and warm politician I’ve ever interviewed. She gets a hard time in the media, but in person she’s normal and friendly and funny. Many Tory MPs have a great deal of time and affection for her. I attended a party held in her honour by David Davis on Monday night, which was packed with Conservative colleagues, all of whom were enormously relieved that she was back. She told me about her lack of a ‘filter’ as a politician, and perhaps it would be better if there were more parliamentarians like her, who speak their mind and come across as normal, rather than turning on that professional filter. After all, it’s this raw quality that Nigel Farage manages to trade on – albeit in a pint-wielding, pin-striped way. But for the Tory leadership to ignore her advice about the allure of Ukip to a normal Tory-minded voter would be foolish indeed: now that the prodigal daughter is back, she should be listened to.
You can now read the full interview here.
UPDATE: Nadine’s piece has caused quite a stir and she’s been asked about it by the BBC. Here’s her response: