Coffee House

Exclusive: How the Tories plan to attack Ukip

8 July 2013

1:41 PM

8 July 2013

1:41 PM

Last week Lynton Crosby and David Cameron briefed Conservative MPs on the threat posed by Ukip. Their timing was impeccable: today’s YouGov poll showing 19 per cent of Conservative members would seriously consider voting for Nigel Farage’s party could have sent Tory MPs into orbit, but instead they have been reassured that the party has a proper plan to deal with the enemies to the right, rather than the messy ‘fruitcake’ strategy of the past few years.

I am told by a number of MPs who were present that Crosby talked generally about what attracts people to Ukip, rather than the specific problem of next year’s European elections. This was based on polling the party has been carrying out. He told the meeting, which took place while the debate on James Wharton’s EU referendum bill continued, that there were three reasons Conservative voters were turning their backs on the party: immigration, welfare, and the economy. The last reason was the most important driver, but the European Union was not the top reason. It is of course a contributing factor to other problems, particularly immigration.

Crosby and the Prime Minister said they were confident that these voters were quite easy to win back because the party is making progress on all three fronts: the green shoots popping up all over the place on the economic front and progress cutting the deficit; the flagship welfare reforms (and the regular hints from the top of the party that it would go much further on welfare without the restraining influence of the Liberal Democrats); and net migration falling by a third. The meeting heard that the Prime Minister and his colleagues at the top of the party will focus on getting those achievements across to voters in as many ways as they possibly can in the next few months.


But Crosby also highlighted Ukip’s policy inconsistencies, and this will be another key line of attack for the Conservative party in the coming months. They have already tried to point out that while Ukip oppose HS2, their 2010 manifesto actually called for three high-speed rail lines. Another example to be deployed in the next few months will be road tolling, I hear. They want to be able to say that Ukip changes its mind like the wind or tides. Amusingly, Farage’s party appears to be bracing itself for this onslaught with a disclaimer on the 2010 manifesto page of the Ukip website: Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 13.26.05

Tory MPs who attended the meeting were already in a good mood: in the preceding 24 hours they had enjoyed a parliamentary party photo involving Michael Gove pretending to be Speaker Bercow and mocking Philip Hammond, a barbecue in Downing Street that was better attended than most Conservative events since 2010, a stirring performance from James Wharton in the Chamber and the growing implosion of the Labour party. But they were reassured not only that these Ukip-facing voters are not irreconcilable, but also that their party has a proper plan to win them back that doesn’t involve insults about fruitcakes. One said ‘I wish David Cameron had been given all of this two years ago’.

Some Tories in marginal seats where the real problem is Labour stood up and told their colleagues that Ukip was a red herring. But Crosby responded that this might be the case for them, but Ukip does present a real problem in other constituencies. He reassured the meeting that Labour has a soft vote, as well. His aim appeared to be to give MPs a frequently-asked-questions presentation on Ukip so that the leadership doesn’t need to keep answering the same questions over and over again at parliamentary party meetings.

Of course, it will need to return to the issue again, particularly as the European elections loom. Some MPs want a strategy that says the party won’t sweat the euros while focusing on a good, reassuring result in the locals taking place at the same time. But for the time being, Conservative MPs seem to have been very reassured and cheered by Friday’s meeting.

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Show comments
  • Stephen Wolstenholme

    They are deluding themselves.

  • thanksdellingpole

    Wait until 2014.

  • FairBobby

    For me the issue is simple: the conservatives have turned into socialists, abandoned free enterprise, free trade, freedom of choice, free speech, free England and are leaning strongly towards totalitarian control of the populace where the State knows best and imposes its will with no dissension allowed. I give you two examples: 1. Membership of the EU, and 2. Cameron’s love fest with wind turbines.
    Unless and until we reject Cameron and his crazy policies, England is doomed to slither into obscurity.

  • Adrian Wainer

    It is a question of trust. It has been the policy of the Conservative Party to make Britain an Islamic State and murder the bulk of the non-Muslim population of the UK in concentration camps to free up lebensraum for Muslim immigration.That is so heinous that only an idiot would believe that the Tories have suddenly become the good guys rather than that they are attempting to destroy UKIP by seeming to accept people’s concerns on immigration and act accordingly in order to buy time to institute a Fascist one party state system in Britain so the LIbLabCon can no longer be challenged through the ballot box and the Conservative Party can get back to instituting their Islamization and mass murder objectives with regard to Britain’s future.

  • Patricia

    Another futile pavan from Camclegg and his lickspittles. He’s had three years to sort out the toxic stew of mass immigration, shyster EU dues and the benefits culture left behind by Labour which has transformed our country into a haven for crazed asylum seekers, their moronic families and indigenous leeches.

    Like her or loathe her, Theresa May seems to be the only one who is attempting to do anything pertinent and shame on Cameron and his ilk for hiding behind her skirts mouthing “jam tomorrow”.

  • Keith D

    Theres only one way the Tories can avoid a UKIP assault on their core vote.And thats to reconnect with them,rather than offering insults and insincere platitudes.People will not be fooled by any more soundbites from Cast Iron Dave.Net migration down by a third?So what? Net migration is a completely false measure and its use is even more depressing as it reveals the amount of Brits fleeing this once beautiful country of ours.

  • Lady Magdalene

    “They want to be able to say that Ukip changes its mind like the wind or tides”

    That’ll be good, coming from Mr U-Turn in No.s 10 and 11 Downing Street.

    “they were reassured not only that these Ukip-facing voters are not irreconcilable, but also that their party has a proper plan to win them back.”
    I wonder if that involves making “cast-iron promises” which they have no intention of keeping. On past performance, I’m inclined to think it probably does.
    UKIP prevented a Conservative majority when we got 3.1% in 2010. Survation currently has us on 22%. And that’s before the hordes of Romanian, Bulgarian and Moldovian-by-the-back-door immigrants start pitching up in January, all seeking a better life courtesy of the British taxpayer.

  • Nick

    Everything the Tories promise is too little,too late and as a governing body,they are no better than the last government.
    I will vote UKIP at the Euro election and the GE.

  • terence patrick hewett

    The Tories are the pederast party.

  • Martin Jennerson

    UKIP talk about reducing “permanent migration” (i.e. foreign people settling here in waves so as likely to induce tribal violence), which is what I care about rather than “net migration is down”, which is just a crap political class statistic which means nothing to me. And I really don’t care about the number of temporary visitors, as many as poss are welcome. Nigel Farage doesn’t come out with insulting platitudes about “great contributions”. There is no chance of me voting for the Tories given their constant ability to miss the mark in terms of retoric and to avoid certain subjects out of fear of causing PC offense, which amounts to cowardice and inertia in policy.

  • Martin Jennerson

    Why don’t the Tories just let UKIP say all the things they’re too pathetic and politically-correct to say, and that way the right might actually get some working-class votes and then the two parties can form a coalition. Tories reputation is ruined with working class and in Scotland, UKIP might have a chance with these two groups.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Furthermore if the Tories are going to dissect manifestos perhaps first they might point to the place in their own 2010 manifesto where they stated they would seek a foul coalition with the Libdems if necessary. If I recall in the preliminaries to the election David Cameron was not slow in denouncing such coalitions. How quickly did that view change?

    Of course this is the Lynton Crosby who the last time he fought a UK general election he convinced all of 8.7 million voters. If he repeats that performance then the big question will be what happened to the ‘lost 2 million’.

    I think we will all know what the answer will be…….

  • Smithersjones2013

    Talking of inconsistencies this of course is from the Prime Minister who imposed a three line whip less than two years ago to vote against an EU referendum and who now cannot do anything else but call for one. We can if you like go through all the rest of the u-turns the weak and feeble Cameron has been forced into…..

    I think the response to the Tories is

    ” Come and have a go if you think your hard enough”

    Coz here’s the thing for every incident the Tories might highlight about UKIP there are at least 10 examples of high profileTories doing exactly the same thing.

    Furthermore the whole article ignores the biggest reason for avoiding voting Tory at all cost. David Cameron and his inadequate Cameroon Blairite sect. While Cameron is leader I suspect a lot fewer will return than Crosby pretends.

    Of course he can’t really tell his employer or his party “Dave you are not going to win because too many people think you’re a c***”.

  • cargill55

    26% to UKIP in local council by elections over the last 3 months.
    Tories assume the electorate are stupid.

    • JabbaTheCat

      In the local elections, UKIP got 25% on a 30% average turnout, which is 8.75% in real terms…

      • cargill55

        And the Liblabcon percentage?
        Works both ways.
        Voter apathy is always an issue but you will be interested to hear that UKIP is getting support from people who had been turned off voting by Liblabcon and also that UKIP voters are wmost likely to get out to vote.
        That is why there are so many by election victories.

  • cargill55

    ‘ Crosby and the Prime Minister said they were confident that these voters were quite easy to win back’
    Arrogant Tories.
    This is one ex Tory voter which will never be won back.

  • colin downes

    Cameron and Crosby need to worry more about the 1.3m Equitable victim families than about UKIP. 17,000 savers have died since Cameron callously instructed his MPs to renege on their individual and Party pledge to PROPERLY compensate these hard working tax payers who `did the right thing’. The biggest likelihood is that we will not vote at all. Unless money is released ahead of 2015 victims will be active in every constituency to remind the electorate as to the spending choices the local MP has made rather than honour their pledges. W have ranked behind Post Office pensions, Mau Mau terrorists, vanity HS2 commitments, Foreign Aid to both failed and rich Third World countries, reckless bankers,the Eurozone AND now even MPs pay. Cameron cannot hope that we will all die before 2015 or think by closing off the travesty of the existing pittance of compensation scheme in 2014 that we will go away. He and his MPs have the opportunity to save our retirements. MPs need to find the moral courage to do the `right thing’. Without more money being released the victim families will see no point in voting..

  • newmanuk

    With the Conservatives under Cameron immigration will
    inevitably increase on top of the current levels as ‘Dave’ enthusiastically
    supports the expansion of the EU into relatively poor countries with high
    unemployment rates such as parts of Asia (Turkey), the Balkan countries (Bosnia,
    Serbia, Albania, Kosovo etc), more Eastern block countries like the Ukraine and
    there has even been talk of North African countries. This means if ‘Dave’ gets
    his way we are looking at potentially another 100-150 million extra people who will
    have the right to live, work, and settle in the UK completely unrestricted.

  • nationalexistance

    England votes for ukip; Scotland votes for independence.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Really? Not much point holding a referendum then. If Salmond and his miserable party represent “Scotland” he might as well get with UDI.

  • Mark Croucher

    If they’re going to do that, they need to do it honestly. UKIP policy on high speed rail lines was to *upgrade existing track*, not dig up half of rural England to build new ones. Same old Tories.

    • andagain

      You could probably upgrade the siganlling system to put more trains on the existing tracks (which I would ceertainly favour over HS2). But that would allow more trains, not faster ones.

      But if you really do insist on a “High Speed Line”, as currently seems fashionable, you are going to be building new lines. The current lines have far too many sharp curves in them.

    • Makroon

      Farage, in his long and chummy interview on radio 5 last week, answered hardly a single question. Everything was “it is work in progress” (his latest catch-phrase). The guy showed every slippery trick of the pub con-man (admirable at some sort of level I suppose). He likes to hint that there are “high-powered teams of boffins and experts working away on all this as I speak” (the Ed Balls technique), and “we need to see the books and the costs” (Ed the charismatic, again).
      To believe that UKIP has some finely honed policies making HS2 feasible (but not yet), is, in good, old, Anglo-Saxon – bullshit.

      • Colonel Mustard

        “The guy showed every slippery trick of the pub con-man”

        Which we also see all the time from everyone else, including Cameron. They are all con-men now. Things changed when they began to see themselves as controlling us rather than representing us and when Common Purpose began brainwashing the whole public sector into believing they are there to lead us rather than serve us. We used to be a free society with a government governing “the country”. Now they are governing society – or trying to – and the country has gone to the dogs. A plague on all their houses.

  • MirthaTidville

    What attracts voters to UKIP??????………Cameron does… question

  • Ron Todd

    Want me back.

    Convince me you are serious about a referendum. To do that you will need to get rid of Cameron.

    Go back to one set of laws applied equally to all. Get rid of the idea of ‘hate crime’ under which the legal system would give priority (and harsher sentencing) to any victim who is not white British heterosexual

    Get realistic about energy policy. Windfarms might make your big land owning friends and politicians with links to ‘green’ energy companies rich but they will not keep the lights on or help UK industry compete against countries with cheap reliable energy..

  • Windymac

    “Enemies to the right”? Give over.

  • Denis_Cooper

    Typical, the priority for the Tories is not what would be best for the country and its people, but the opposite, how best to attack another party which unlike the Tories does want what would be best for the country and its people. And if they were to succeed, and the threat of UKIP was removed, what would the Tories do then? We know what they’d do, they’d just revert to being the same old Tory party that sold us out before under Heath, Thatcher and Major, that’s what they’d do.

  • Colonel Mustard

    “…there were three reasons Conservative voters were turning their backs on the party: immigration, welfare, and the economy. The last reason was the most important driver, but the European Union was not the top reason.”

    Really? Former Tory voters turning to UKIP because of the . . . economy? Looks like Cameron is continuing to pay for bad advice and continuing to delude himself.

    • andagain

      You think this is implausible because the economy is doing so well?

      Or do you think it implausible becuase people concerned about the economy should be voting Labour?

      • Colonel Mustard

        Are those the only two possibilities?

        I would have thought the last thing anyone concerned about the economy should be doing is voting Labour…

        • andagain

          Yes. This would be why you would expect some people to be claiming to have switched their support UKIP.

          • Colonel Mustard

            I’m afraid you’ve lost me. My understanding is that UKIP is attracting ex-Labour voters in larger numbers than ex-Tory. I could be wrong about that.

        • Makroon

          I really don’t get this.
          Surely 19% of Tory members, is a surprisingly small number ?
          This small group of “political junkies” is temperamentally prone to “rage against the machine”, and Farage will (and does) say practically anything to try to schmooze them …. but only 19% are even susceptible ??!

          Crosby, on the other hand, is talking about the centre-right/right-wing electorate – a much more reasonable, concerned, but not particularly politically engaged, huge section of the population.

          • Colonel Mustard

            I doubt it is possible to wrap up the current movements so easily but personally I think the plates have moved whilst still being assessed on the basis of outdated politics. Things might be clearer after the Euro elections.

  • Susan Foyster

    Oh I know the answer to this. do I get a prize?
    They are going to stick their fingers in their ears, pull faces and call us all the nasty names they can think of, just like last time.

    • Roger V

      Maybe – but beware the postal vote fraud.

  • Tom Tom

    Cameron has to run on his record…….dire as it is. Whether voters turn to UKIP or not is hardly relevant when they simply cannot stomach voting Conservative

  • Abhay

    Photos and barbecue. Smugness and contempt
    and ‘feel good’ politics.
    I do hope UKIP are spreading their influence meanwhile up and down the country.

  • Sanctimony

    This is Tory complacency at its most sublime.

    Get rid of one Islamic nutter on a private jet to a luxurious prison cell in Amman, when hundreds of the maniacs are still free and on the streets to proclaim their messages of hate…. and Cameron feels he has achieved a major coup.

    His greatest accomplishment today was to suggest Knighting Andy Murray…. where are this goon’s priorities… in addition to which he was snubbed and upstaged by that Scottish sumo wrestler, Salmond, at Wimbledon yesterday.

    He is in thrall to that political dwarf, Clegg, who stymies every Tory proposal or policy, all the while trying to claim that salvation has arrived…

    This man, Cameron, is the Walter Mitty of 10 Downing Street and UKIP is in with more than a shout…. bring it on !

    • Roger V

      Oh boy – tell it like it is! Like it!


    is there evidence UKIP vote is soft? The post says Tories giving up on Euro-elections in effect; that ensures UKIP a very good SPRINGBOARD. A Tory/UKIP deal is imperative by 2015. I don’t think DC will do this. The parliamentary party needs to come to terms with that.

  • Treebrain

    “The next Spectator Debate: too much immigration, too little integration?”

    Cameron and Crosby would be well-advised to take the time to attend this debate rather than congratulating themselves that they have already solved the problem?

  • gerontius

    “Crosby and the Prime Minister said they were confident that these voters were quite easy to win back”

    I thought the modernisation plan was to get rid of all these right wing nutjobs that give the party such a bad name amongst right thinking folk.

    • HookesLaw

      They are talking about the voters not the nutjobs. You live on another planet.

      • Wessex Man

        You as usual are talking rubbish, by the very large amount of voters that have deserted the Tories, while labour are such weak opposition, I supppose the votersare all nutjobs!

  • Chris lancashire

    Reasonable analysis by Crosby. It is all to play for in 2015 and provided nothing blows the economy off its present course there is a very good chance of the Conservatives attaining an outright majority.

    • AnotherDaveB

      If the Conservative couldn’t win a majority in 2010 when Labour were reduce to 29% of the vote, why would they win a majority in 2015?

      Are you expecting Labour to get a lower share of the vote than 29%?

      • Chris lancashire


        • Smithersjones2013

          Oh dear. You know when a party of Government is finished. When the delusions begin.

  • DaveL

    Anyone reading the above article might think that HS2 is the only place a rail track could go.

  • Austin Barry

    “But for the time being, Conservative MPs seem to have been very reassured and cheered by Friday’s meeting.”

    How lovely.

    I’d be interested to know how the party is planning to mollify or distract the seething electorate concerned about the expected influx of tens of thousands of Romanians and Bulgarians after 1 January 2014.

  • John Mackie

    Crosby and the Prime Minister said they were confident that these voters were quite easy to win back…

    Wait and see. and then stuff your entitled arrogance where the sun don’t shine.

    I will continue to vote Ukip until the fundamental change they represent is accomplished. Which it will NEVER be under the centre left to hard left LibLabCon Oxbridge PPE indoctrinated cretins we are now subjected to.

    • telemachus

      You poor poor deluded fool

      Your whole raison d’etre is like the rest of what Feldman calls swivel eyed loons is to pursue the immigrant Eurosceptic I am not paying taxes agenda
      So what do you do-You vote for the very party that will deprive you of any prospect of any of these
      UKIP will deliver the Tory marginals to the party dedicated to allowing reasonable immigration engagement with Europe and fair taxes for all
      It is clear why Feldman said what he said
      Not that I am complaining

      • Sanctimony

        Which Tory safe seat are you hoping to stand for, Telemachus ?

        • telemachus

          We are working on Warrington South, Morecambe & Lunesdale and Lancaster and Fleetwood
          Colleagues are working on other areas

          • Colonel Mustard

            For the Labour party you are not actually a member of…

      • Magnolia

        Worried Ed might win Tele?
        Odd to see a vote Dave comment from you?

        Now I know you’re an independent!

      • Magnolia

        The site or aliens removed my comment.

    • David Lindsay

      UKIP and the Tories: two bald men fighting over a comb.

  • sarahsmith232

    Cameron didn’t aggressively tackle immigration when he first got in. he waited for around 18 months to implement one weak and measly policy. then we had to wait forever for another equally lame policy, etc. I washed my hands of him over that weekend when it was all – fanfare, drum roll, get the cake and bunting out, WE’RE ANNOUNCING TOUGH IMMIGRATION CRACKDOW. loudhailered via various ministers over a weekend, then what? come the Monday and the speech by Cameron it was just a re-announcement of a 2009 Labour housing policy that councils could freely choose to demand that a person has lived locally for a few years before they get social housing . . . that was it. (this I got from this blog)
    it was an outrage, it was treating us like morons and it certainly wasn’t a big immigration crackdown policy. this is why people are voting Ukip. Cameron is REFUSING to get anything done. they keep saying they’ve reduced immigration by a third, no, net immigration by a third. huge difference. they’ve been in power for over 3yrs and they’re just scratching the surface. we’re angry.

  • Treebrain

    “Crosby and the Prime Minister said they were confident that these voters were quite easy to win back because the party is making progress on all three fronts…”

    But that is simply not correct!

    The party is making no progress whatsoever with regard to immigration, it is still going backwards. The issue of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants looms, foreign criminals are allowed leave to remain despite heinous crimes, there are about two million illegal immigrants in the UK, health tourism as about to soar on the announcement that £200 gets you unlimited free medical treatment, to name but a few issues.

    The British public, and former Conservative voters, are not going to be fobbed off with a few words from Cameron and Crosby!

    • Alexsandr

      if the tory backbenchers are millified by camerons words they they are downright thick. They have totally failed to understand the UKIP message and think the electorate will be fobbed off with a few half hearted announclements.

      The coaition has been in power over 2 years now and most people think they have done square root of f-all to fix things

      Debt still rising, immigration uncontrolled, islamic nutters still not controlled, welfare state burgeoning, EU grabbing more and more power.

      And still most of them are clones. Not an whisper of real life experience among them.

      • Treebrain


        Well said, it is so typical of the spin merchants like Cameron and Crosby to presume that the former Conservative voters are simple-minded folk who will be bought off by a few soundbites and return to the fold!

        Eccellent point about the lack of real world experience, because of this the denizens of Westminster village are so out of touch with the real world.

      • rubyduck

        “millified” ?

        Interesting concept.

    • AnotherDaveB

      It’s not supposed to be correct, it’s just supposed to stop Conservative MPs triggering a leadership contest.

      • Treebrain


        The idea that a leadership contest would be of any use to the Conservative Party has long gone.

        Any serious contender realises that the next election is already lost, so will simply watch David Cameron sleepwalk his party into defeat and then try to pick up the pieces afterwards.