X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Blogs

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

1 May 2013

10:56 AM

1 May 2013

10:56 AM

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.)

[Alt-Text]


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.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close