Coffee House

How David Cameron could defuse the threat of UKIP defections

27 November 2012

9:22 AM

27 November 2012

9:22 AM

Is a group of MPs preparing to leave the Tory party’s benches and defect to UKIP? Christopher Hope has a good scoop in today’s Telegraph that UKIP’s Treasurer Stuart Wheeler has had secret talks with eight MPs about a possible defection. Wheeler told the paper that he had held ‘completely confidential’ meetings with MPs. Apparently unaware of the irony of spilling the beans to a journalist about these ‘completely confidential’ meetings, even if he doesn’t name any of those involved, the Treasurer said:

‘I have had lunch secretly if you like, in a completely confidential way, with eight different Tory MPs.’

He added:

‘Each was promised by me that I would not tell any of the others, or anybody else except Nigel.’


Even Wheeler admits that those lunches were no indication that all eight involved might defect, or whether they actually had a looser pact of the kind James described yesterday in mind when they agreed to meet UKIP figures. But this is a higher number holding talks than previously thought: Farage has previously disclosed that he held meetings with two Tory MPs. The UKIP leader himself features in the Telegraph, too, with an op-ed in which he argues his party is now ‘neither on the Left nor on the Right, but at the centre of public debate – rather than at the centre of the discourse that exists in the Westminster bubble’. But an easy trap for many – including Conservatives – to fall into is one of thinking that UKIP is a sort of Tory Deluxe offering, with all the Cameroon trimmings removed. As Alex points out in his post, the party does have a number of strikingly different policies which many Conservatives would struggle to accept.

Instead, Tim Montgomerie has the results of a snap survey of Conservative grassroots members, which finds 74 per cent of respondents believe the Prime Minister could make an effective response to the UKIP threat by making a commitment to an In/Out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. It would certainly calm Tory MPs down sufficiently to make them take note of some of UKIP’s rather grand policy promises, as well as the areas where the two parties do quite clearly disagree.

The problem is, of course, that this is a promise that Cameron seems set not to make. The MPs most likely to hold completely confidential meetings with Stuart Wheeler won’t be placated with the current In/In offer of a renegotiated relationship that is then put to the British people, but it is this offer that the Prime Minister seems most likely to make rather than the In/Out pledge that would keep UKIP at bay.

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Show comments
  • RocketDog

    Now 3K comments on Nigel Farage’s op-ed in the DT, mentioned above

  • barbie

    Offering a renegociation package is not enough for many, after the next general election. What if the Conservatives lose the next election? Are they prepared to leave this nation to the hands of the Labour party, again? Cameron should have the referendum before the next election so whoever wins knows how the nation stand and what they want. Miliband won’t give us a referendum, he wants to pontifcate like Blair on the EU stage. No wonder some Tories are considaring crossing the floor of the house, and so they should for the sake of this nation. Cameron is proving foolish, with his stance, he comes over less and less a Tory by the day and more like Lib Dem. Its now time the Conservative party realised Cameron is destroying their party, he should be made to stop or give up the leadership. Has for the referendum, the sooner the better it is held so we all know where we stand. How can a nation go forward not wanting the way politicians are taking it; they won’t listen, so we must divest ourselves of them before it’s to late. The thought of Miliband in No 10 makes me shudder, debt again, borrowing again, I hope many Tories realise the importance of their decisions.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    More fudhe than an elephant’s ar$ehole

    • Hexhamgeezer


  • paulus

    clo mustard@ he’s mad you cant reason with him,dont you know this forum is his sandwich board, he just shouts obscenities at the conservative party all the time.

  • William Blakes Ghost

    Anyone reading this would think Cameron lead a majority government. He doesn’t he leads a Coalition and his Coalition partners will never let him offer an in/out referendum in this Parliament. Offering one for the next term is not enough because Cameron has equivocated far too much on the issue and u-turned on far too many other issues to ever be considered trustworthy by those who would leave his party.

    Cameron has backed himself into a corner. He can only lose from this point in and its his fault.

    • Theodoxia

      The past participle of the verb to lead is “led”.

  • Daniel Maris

    I think it would be great if a few Tories with not much to lose joined UKIP – and then sought by-elections within six months. The body politic needs some electroshock therapy since it had become so dysfunctional.

    • Noa

      It would indeed, putting the parties and their whips on notice that it is the wishes electorate and not the elite, which must be considered .

  • William Blakes Ghost

    Once again Toxic Dave demonstrates how politically inept he is. He supposedly breaks the so called ‘Cast Iron Guarantee’ when provding a referendum would likely have given him an overall majority. He copies Blair in obsessing about holding the centre ground whilst deserting his traditional policy areas, ignoring the fact that Blair lost 4 million votes over 8 years in doing so (if Toxic Dave loses half a million in 5 years he is stuffed) and now he offers a referendum when increasingly it seems people want a definitive answer to the festering boil that is the EU. I cannot think of another Prime Minister in living memory who is so inept at political strategy and so out of tune with the general mood of the nation and given Gordon Brown three dreadful years.that is one hell of an achievement. Cameron is constantly behind the curve (perhaps its because his polls and focus groups are out of date?).

  • RocketDog

    More than 2K comments on Nigel Farages’s op-ed in the Telegraph mentioned above

  • DavidDP

    Perhaps making MPs consider actual evidence and data rather than anecdotes from the mot vocal might help…..

  • AnotherDaveB

    “…this is a promise that Cameron seems set not to make. ”


    I seem to recall Coffee House reporting that there would definitely be a referendum in the next Conservative manifesto, and possibly legislation before the election.

    • Michael990

      Too late, and it will be fudged.

  • swatantra

    Its going to be a really dirty fight between Wheeler Money and Ashcroft Money, and I’ve no idea who will win, but its important that closet UKIP members in the Tory Party come out and put their money where their mouth is.

  • D B

    Cameron’s pragmatic approach is the best.

  • LondonStatto

    Why does no one realise that talk of an In/In is a palpable absurdity? Defeating a referendum on a newly-negotiated set of membership terms can only lead to exit; returning to old terms after negotiating new ones just couldn’t happen.

  • Tom

    “Is a group of MPs preparing to leave the Tory party’s benches and defect to UKIP?” Surely one for John Rentoul’s “Questions to which the answer is no” series?

  • HooksLaw

    ho ho – ‘confidential meetings’ what a pathetic joke. So confidential that he plasters them all over the Telegraph. All this proves (never mind about the actual content of alleged ‘meetings’) is that UKIP are only interested in a bigoted attack on the conservative party. Well they can stuff that. I am a conservative and have been all through my life and UKIP do not fool me.

    The biggest danger to my country is the Labour Party. As alluded to UKIP are no more than a confection. Almost literally; they are a sweet shop for childish voters where they can pick and mix their prejudiced, stop the world I want to get off, policies.

    it is of course quite pointless of me to point out that the Conservatives have an effective strategy for the future relationship with the EU and that an in /out referendum is a delusion. But this is coffeehouse where sanity is in short supply.

    • Swiss Bob

      UKIP are only interested in a bigoted attack on the conservative party.

      I don’t remember Farage accusing another major party of being full of ‘fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists’.

      So if we’re going to throw accusations of bigotry around best not to do it in glass houses eh?

    • Colonel Mustard

      The biggest danger to your country used to be the Labour Party. But that was before the Conservative Party got themselves a soft-left leader who hamstrings them as an effective counter to it. I have been a conservative all my life too and I voted for Cameron. Never again. The man is a proven liar and a sham conservative. As long as he leads I won’t vote for them.

    • peterbuss

      I’m with you on this. In some ways I wish Cameron would bring on an In/Out refrendum becuase the out brighade would lose handsomely.All the polls show that what people want is to remain a member of the EU but have a looser relationship.That may well not be achievable but Cameron will give it his best shot to get that sort of deal.I am utterl;y fed up with what some people are doing to the Partyb with their wholly total obsession with Europe. As for UKIP they are a party which basically says “blame the |EU andf immigrants for our present woes”. Pathetic but so so seductive.

      • Colonel Mustard

        “As for UKIP they are a party which basically says “blame the |EU andf immigrants for our present woes”. Pathetic but so so seductive.”

        Nonsense. That is just what people like you attribute them as saying.

        As for your dodgy understanding of current polling:-

        “82% of people would like a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.”

        “The Euro crisis provides an ideal opportunity for Britain to leave the EU altogether: Agree: 52%; Disagree: 26%; Don’t know: 22%”

        “UK should remain full members and participate in further integration – 4%
        UK should remain full members but reject further integration – 7%
        UK should secure substantial renegotiation of its existing relationship with the EU but remain full members – 29%
        UK should leave the EU altogether and negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU – 60%”


      • Vulture

        Not true, Peter. Today’s Comres poll in the left-wing Independent shows that 54% want to leave.

        It does remain true however, that with all three ‘mainstream parties’ plus the BBC and the EU itself ranged against them, the Outers would fight an uphill battle. However, the AV referendum shows that it can be done – providing the Tories have a leader who is an Outer.

        The makes it all the more imperative to oust Cameron – though I fear that ti will take the disastrous defeat of 2015 to put the boot up the spineless Tory MPs.

      • Chris lancashire

        Amazed, but relieved, to find some sanity from yourself and HooksLaw. Expressed perfectly, let’s have the famous In/Out referendum which, as you rightly say, would most likely result in a resounding vote for Cameron’s current position. Even then, however, we would have the obsessionalists claiming the vote was stacked, the question wasn’t phrased properly, all the other politicians ganged up on poor old Nigel.

        As for current MPs defecting – not a chance (with the single possible exception of Cash – nuff said) they all realise they would lose their seats at the next election. I mean, hands up who thinks that UKIP currently with 31 local councillors, 0 MPs and 3 MEPs will win ONE seat at Westminster? Oops, forget who we were talking to.

        • peterbuss

          Thanks very much Chris. Its as though my beloved P|arty is in the same position as Labour in the 80’s who obsessed about unilateral nuclear disarmament,Clause 4 and coming out of the EU. Doctrinal purity was everything – realpolitic was nothing and they kept losing and losing and losing. I am gald and relived that Cameron is not giving in to the pressure although very sadly I do think the Party is truly mad enough to assasinate him. They little realise that if they do then we shall just be seen as some nutty right wing rump. When Maggie was deposed (wrong though that was in principle) at least it brought the Party back in touch with the centre ground – this would be the very opposite.

          • Colonel Mustard

            If you think Cameron is any good at realpolitik I’m afraid you are the one who is nuts. If he was he would be leading a united party and UKIP wouldn’t exist.

          • Fed Up With Tory Wets

            You are one of those arrogant people who think ignoring anything that challenges your own view (POLLING) invalidates it. Well, it doesn’t chum.

          • Vulture

            Yes, and it started a decline from which it will never recover. It may have escaped your notice, Peter, but since Maggie’s ousting the Tory party has only won a single election – 1992 – and that was down to Neil Kinnock being to much for even British voters to swallow rather than down to the brilliance of John Major. So that’s 32 years that your sort of Tory – wet liberals – have been running things and what have you to show for it? Nothing but decline and defeat. If that’s your idea of success, bring back the nutty right-wing rump – and quick.

        • fubarroso

          UKIP have 12 MEPs not 3 as you state. They had 13, but one has subsequently become an independent because she had problems with the EFD group.

      • Daniel Maris

        No, I think they are party which query the modern orthodoxy that both the EU and mass immigration are key to our national prosperity. Do you believe they are then, Peterbuss?

      • ButcombeMan

        Read article 50.

        A nation HAS to vote to leave to negotiate a different relationship

        It is deliberately constructed that way to make leaving or re-negotiation difficult.

    • an ex-tory voter

      “in this coffeehouse where sanity is in short supply”

      Your problem is that the more you rant about fruitcakes, loons etc, the more obvious it becomes that in fact “you are the one wearing the straitjacket”

    • Daniel Maris

      Well all parties are pick and mix. Whom do we believe? Cameron who tells us to hug a hoody or Cameron who wants trainer-thieves locked away for four years? Cameron who is Euro-friendly or Cameron who is Euro-sceptic? Etc etc

  • Vulture

    Mr Slimy is a proven liar and shyster and a pledge from him would be null and voic as soon as it leaves his lying lips.
    No, the goial remains for anyone who cares about the future of the country to oust Dave and his treacherous clique ASAP.
    Rather than defect to UKIP ( and who needs Tories these days?) these eight MPs would be better employed writing to Graham Brady, Chairman of the 1922, demanding a leadership election – and persuading their colleagues to do likewise.
    But since they are too yellow-bellied to do this, they must just wait to lose the election – and their seats.
    The so called Conservative party, like its Canadian cousins, needs destroying and the ground cleared for a renewed relaighnment of the Right to arise.

    • Colonel Mustard

      I fear you are correct. I fear, sadly, that stupid Britain will have to go through its own terminal East German experience before its infatuation with socialism is expunged.

      • dalai guevara

        Delete socialism, insert oligopoly. When will you finally see sense?

        • Daniel Maris

          Agreed – this is hardly what you would call socialism. More like banker -led oligopolistic capitalism with inbuilt welfare dependency, all served up with mass immigration.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …and eco kookery, plus windmills.

            • Daniel Maris

              Well that’s a mere codicil isn’t it Viceroy? We can agree on that at least. I’d prefer sovereignty plus nuclear to subservience plus wind power.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                I’d prefer sovereignty, liberty and freedom. The rest will come as needs, absent your unmindful mastermind.

                And no, your eco kookery and windmills are not a “mere codicil”. They are prime, and are destroying wealth and prosperity in a prime way, while stealing sovereignty, liberty and freedom.

    • EJ

      And so the Cameroonian media machine cranks into action to try to belittle, defame, destroy, extinguish UKIP. You people are so transparent. You must be worried. You’re worse than bullies in a school yard.

      We have Forsyth’s piece yesterday – SO clever the way Cameron’s number 1 fan used a photo of three little old ladies to symbolise UKIP supporters. We have the nasty Leftie smearing of Massie’s piece. And now this from Hardman.

      I sincerely hope that there are some Conservative MPs – who see Cameron for the left-wing Trojan horse shyster that he is – who will talk to UKIP. The country is going to the dogs and Cameron has no intention of tackling any of the real issues. Before we sink into third rate oblivion, we still have a chance to vote for a party with the principle and patriotism that the Tories have long abandoned.

    • telemachus

      Mr Slimy is a proven liar and shyster
      Is that bull-eyed Mr Slmy Frog?

    • ButcombeMan


      For many people, long voting Tories, things have just gone too far. Cameron is just “not one of us” . He is a metropolitan construct almost indistinguishable from Blair. No one knows what he believes (like Bliar).

      What they do know (and this view is widespread) is he is just not trusted, especially on Europe. Many people have come to the conclusion that to force the realignment and renewal you speak of, it will be necessary to vote UKIP. Whatever the cost and whatever the short term pain.

      UKIP is a little more than a one trick pony, but not much more. Sophistication will take time.

      What I find is, UKIP is picking up votes from across the political spectrum in a way that Cameron can only dream of. The idea of a UKIP/TORY “deal” is just ridiculous. UKIP would have nothing to gain and lots of votes to lose from that.

      Cameron is just not touching real people, he is playing with ideas (like redefining marriage) which suit a metropolitan/Common Purpose type, Guardianista, audience, yet which absolutely alienate swathes of the country, his core vote & especially, hardworking Asian business communities, many of whom are, or ought to be, natural Tories

      Cameron is I conclude, politically inept. he had it all to play for, he is throwing it away. It is probably too late.

  • TomTom

    He could resign on the same day as Osborne

  • Colonel Mustard

    “The problem is, of course, that this is a promise that Cameron seems set not to make.”

    Oh, I’m sure he could and would make the promise. But like his “cast iron guarantee” the question must be would he keep it or instead find a carefully contrived wreath of weasel words with which to bury it?

    He also promised to “sweep away” New Labour’s nanny state but has instead busied himself building its oppressive walls even higher.

    • HooksLaw

      You have gone totally bonkers. Every pixel proves my point – totally fruit loop screaming mad. You don’t even see it of course.
      How can you be taken seriously when you blatantly lie about the ‘cast iron guarantee’. If the treaty had not been ratified there would have been a referendum. There was no such guarantee in the 2010 manifesto.

      You are reduced to justifying your prejudice with lies ramblings and pure fantasy to go along with your ‘slimy’ remarks.

      • Colonel Mustard

        And you are reduced to foaming abuse, as usual.

        It’s not me who lied about the “cast iron guarantee”. The clue is in the term. Cameron never said “I can’t guarantee that because . . . ” as a man of integrity might have. No, instead he used weasel words to raise expectations for his political gain, something – perhaps the only thing – he is good at. It’s not me who promised to “sweep away” New Labour’s nanny state. That was Cameron that was, and it was even in the Coalition agreement as plain as day. So, where is the sweeping away then? What we have instead are proposals for more surveillance, for internet censorship and for secret courts.

        Given all that it’s not my remarks that are ‘slimy’ but rather Cameron’s behaviour in office.

        • HooksLaw

          You are plain lying about the cast iron guarantee which in fact said that if the treaty were not ratified by the election the tories would go into the election promising a referendum. the treaty was ratified before the election. The tories voted against it in parliament.
          There was no cast iron guarantee in the 2010 manifesto, but they promised a triple lock and that has been delivered by parliament.

          Thus to suit your foaming prejudice do you misrepresent the truth. these are the facts, go look them up. But you don’t want to do you.
          On the other hand Brown promised a referendum but then refused one but you and your party will actively promote a policy which is designed to return labour to power and Brown to influence.

          You seem to have found a new catch phrase in ‘nanny state’ – like all catch phrases – they are for comedians.

          ‘THE Coalition’s bonfire of red tape, by scrapping or overhauling more than 3000 regulations, sparked anger last night.’

          • Colonel Mustard

            Promises again. What he plans to do and what he proposes. But what has he actually done? In his own words:-


            Please tell us which of the promises contained in this statement have been fulfilled or at least progressed, item by item.

            “Nanny state” is not my catch phrase. Cameron used the term when he promised to “sweep it all away”. Another unfulfilled promise.

            My prejudice is not “foaming” but rooted in empirical evidence. Again I remind you I am not a member or supporter of UKIP but rather a disillusioned Tory.

            • ButcombeMan

              I rather fancy most of Hookies “UKIP fruit loops” here, are long time Tory voters who have seen through Common Purpose Cameron.

              Most, truly wish, the Conservatives were not in the state they are and that Cameron showed proper leadership that chimed with the mass of center ground British people. He does not seem to understand what he has to do.

              He is just not touching what used to be called “Mondeo man”, he is alienating his core vote. Why is he doing that? It is baffling. For what?

              I have said before, he would be given lots of policy elbow room if the government demonstrated administrative competence. With rare exceptions, it does not.

      • Colonel Mustard

        PS Your behaviour on this blog is making me more not less likely to join UKIP and more not less disenchanted with the Conservative Party.

        • HooksLaw

          Your behaviour on this blog makes me more likely to do the opposite. But the fact is this blog is infested with UKIP fruit loops.
          You talk rubbish and then object when its pointed out to you.

          Little old me going to be an excuse? How pathetic is that?

          Its easier to sulk than to realise that being supposedly ‘out’ of the EU would not make hardly a scrap of difference – and for this little piece of cigarette paper you would seek to split the vote, appease the ego trippers and let in europhile labour.

          There is not an ounce or a shed of logic in your stance. But you are not interested in listening.

          • Colonel Mustard

            The only thing I object to is your abusiveness.

          • fubarroso

            Its easier to sulk than to realise that being supposedly ‘out’ of the EU would not make hardly a scrap of difference

            Masterly use of the double negative there Hooky. Ignoring that though, I think you are right that it would not make a scrap of difference if we were out of the EU. We so badly need to change our system of governance. Representative democracy doesn’t work for the people. If it ever did work, it got seriously broken half a century ago! In this day and age direct democracy is entirely plausible and should operate under a constitution build around the Harrogate Agenda.

          • Hexhamgeezer

            ‘You talk rubbish and then object when its pointed out to you’

            No, just saying something doesn’t make it so. Advance an argument rather than just dishing out abuse. Abuse and reason is entertaining.

            And talking of which you didn’t always seem this mental. I could read your posts and either take or leave them as they generally weren’t mere abuse. Now you’ve gone a bit radgy. Have you been hijacked?

            • Noa

              My point and concern too, Hexhamgeezer. The personal abuse has been growing, whilst the objective argument has often reduced, almost to the point of infinity.

              What is the reason for this change?

            • Daniel Maris

              Well said Hexham. Hookslaw is one of those “outward observers”. He appears on the outside to obey the laws of rational argument but when you get closer you see he is smuggling in ad hominem attacks, invective and appeals to authority all the time. He doesn’t really want to debate anything at all. He just wants to keep flagging the tanks forward to roll over the opposition.

      • Matthew Whitehouse

        Each new Parliament has the power to un-do whatever the last parliament did. SO, why do YOU and others THINK that the tories couldnt un-do this?

  • Chris

    If the conservatives want to make absolutely sure that they lose the next election, they’ll do a deal of any sort with UKIP.

    • Swiss Bob

      They seem to be doing a pretty good job of losing the next election all on their own.

      No will will believe any offer of a referendum from Common Purpose Cameron.

      • Noa

        I don’t know about buying votes Swiss Bob, but there were several disgusted ex-Labour voters in the short time I was in the Rotherham office today, saying they were disgusted at Labours Stalinist behaviour and were intending to vote UKIP.

        But they must be loonies, fruitcakes and closet racists, mustn’t they?

    • an ex-tory voter

      Deal or no deal, “they are dead unless they dump Dave”

  • @PhilKean1

    This is how low British politics has sunk

    (a) – Who would believe that Cameron would honour a referendum pledge?
    (b) – If he DID keep his promise, would he join with the other 3 parties and throw the entire weight of the Tory machine into a campaign of scares and propaganda in order to keep Britain in?
    (c) – If he LOST the vote, would he REFUSE to extricate Britain from the EU? I firmly believe he would.
    (d) – Britain’s economy is in a mess and getting worse. Osborne’s poor stewardship and Cameron’s poor leadership has brought us to a situation where they are considering raising taxes to the point where it can only be self-defeating.

    Faced with the prospect of taking Britain out of the EU, their security zone, how on earth would Cameron & Osborne execute such a move when they haven’t even been able to make a success of Government since 2010?


    • D B

      I dread the idea of an IN/OUT referendum because it would almost certainly result in a vote for the status quo.

      • telemachus

        And what is so very wrong with that
        The current Eurozone crisis is a little local difficulty that will soon be over
        When it is and when it booms we will boom too and Joe Public will forget thoughts of referenda
        Do respectable Tories want to be bracketed with the fruitcakes of the frog party

        • Noa

          Ex-Labour supporters, angry at thacker and Common Purpose, are now defecting in increasing numbers to UKIP. We look forward to your own Damascene conversion.

          • telemachus

            Mattereth not the damage is purely in the Tory marginals

            • Noa

              Rotherham a Tory marginal? Forsooth, for Shame.