What result at the next election would most suit Ukip? There is little doubt that the party would most benefit from a Labour victory in 2015, which I discussed in my Spectator column this week. In brief, Labour victory would mean:
1. No EU referendum and more EU immigration. Ed Miliband has taken a strong stance against an In/Out referendum despite pressure from inside his shadow Cabinet to agree to one. He is unlikely to change his mind on this if he became Prime Minister. Five more years without a referendum, would play into Ukip’s hands as would five more years of immigration from the EU. Indeed, the latter would undoubtedly help Ukip in its effort to breakthrough in Labour’s northern heartlands.
2. A Labour government implementing cuts. Ukip used to be more libertarian than the other parties. But that has changed in recent times. Ukip is now quick to pose as the defender of the NHS and an opponent of the bedroom tax. Ukip MEP Diane James has even attacked the coalition for attempting to make efficiency savings in the health service. If Labour wins in 2015, it will have to make cuts. This will provide Ukip with a stick with which to beat Labour, and an opportunity to argue that cuts wouldn’t be necessary if the government instead reduced foreign aid and the UK’s contribution to the EU. This would be a major boon for Ukip in its battles against Labour in the north.
3. Any post-Cameron Tory leader will come under pressure to do a deal with Ukip. If the Tories lose in 2015 with Ukip polling strongly, David Cameron’s successor will come under pressure to ‘reunite the right’. There’ll be demands for some kind of accommodation with Ukip in either policy, personnel or electoral terms.
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