There will never be a UKIP-Tory pact
UKIP is a party in its own right that will not be bought off by crumbs from the Tory table of government
Yesterday afternoon I made a hasty trip up to Millbank to appear on Sky News with Adam Boulton to discuss Michael Fabricant's proposals for a Tory-UKIP pact.
I like Fabricant; since his tenure as a Conservative party whip ended he has joined Twitter and appears to be having rather a lot of fun with it. However, the decision to write this report is a very strange one for the Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party.
The details of the Pact Report are fairly clear. The author lists our successes so far; in 2009 we came second in the European Elections with two and a half million votes and 16 percent of the popular vote; we came 2nd in the Barnsley by-election and took 14.3 percent of the vote in Corby. Fabricant also suggests, correctly, that UKIP may have cost the Conservative Party their expected majority in 2010 and that was when we were polling just 3.1 percent.
We have been consistently polling at between 7 percent and 11 percent since the spring, regularly replacing the Lib Dems in third place; to make matters worse, 15 percent of Conservative members who haven't joined us already are saying they may well vote for us.
So one can understand why a pact with UKIP would be attractive to the Conservatives.
But what would be in it for us?
Well, the Conservatives would offer us an in/out referendum on our membership of the European Union, the result of which would be invalid on less than a 50 percent turnout – a caveat that renders the referendum promise meaningless as referenda rarely provoke such a proportion out to vote – in exchange for us giving a guarantee that we will not stand against Conservatives candidates.
Now, Mr Fabricant does not make clear whether he is referring to eurosceptic Conservatives or all Conservatives; the former would surely lead to many Europhiles seeing the sceptic light, the latter would mean UKIP can no longer stand at all. So really quite a terrible deal for us, and that is if Cameron can be trusted, something we know to be doubtful at best.
It has also been hinted at that Nigel might be offered a top job in government; no specifics, but to make it very clear, no matter what the job on offer, Nigel Farage will not be bought.
I have said before and will say again: UKIP is more than a protest party purely fuelled by its desire for a referendum. We have a broad range of domestic policies and it is for these that I joined back in March.
We want to ensure social mobility via grammar schools; we want to create a simpler, fairer tax regime via a flat rate of income tax and would take the poorest out of income tax altogether; we would abolish employers' national insurance contributions for they are little but a tax on jobs; we would support local referenda on issues from planning to hunting; we want sensible energy policies that will not blight our landscapes with wind farms and push the most vulnerable into fuel poverty; and yes, we want out of the EU.
People often forget that around 30 percent of UKIP members are former Labour supporters rather than disgruntled Tories; furthermore, many former Conservatives such as myself are in UKIP for the long haul and would not consider such a deal unless offers were made on a broad range of policies, if ever. The idea of buying off UKIP with a pathetic, embarrassing, and downright insulting proposal such as this is laughable. It reeks of the Tory arrogance that the votes and potential majority is theirs by right.
Come 2014, we intend to win the Euro elections and whenever the next General Election is held we will undoubtedly cause Cameron more than a headache, especially if the Conservative leader continues his merry dance of broken promises and U-turns.
UKIP is a party in its own right, a party that the two largest parties this week admitted is part of the mainstream political debate, a party that will not be bought off by crumbs from the Tory table of government.
Alexandra Swann works in the European Parliament and tweets @AlexandraLSwann
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