Yes. But no...
In 1993, Canada’s Conservatives were wiped out. The governing party lost all but two of its 156 MPs, and began a 23-year period in opposition. Defeat on such a scale doesn’t happen for just one reason, of course, but the Tories’ single biggest disadvantage is easily identified: the Right-wing vote was split.
The Progressive Conservatives, the established party of Diefenbaker and Mulroney, had been challenged by a younger movement, the Reform Party. Led by Preston Manning, one of the greatest conservative leaders of our age, Reform spilled out from the western prairies, demanding radical decentralisation, tax cuts, a crackdown on crime and an end to multiculturalism.
Dan then argues that when the two parties merged, they made a stronger electoral proposition, and the Conservatives have consequently gone from strength to strength.
You can probably guess where I’m going with this argument.
The latest YouGov poll has my party on 32 per cent, and UKIP on 9 per cent. Together, that’s a Conservative government; separately, it’s a Labour government.
Which would scare us all, Danny, if the recent actions of your party—in sharp contrast to the rhetoric of both members of the Coalition—hadn't more than adequately revealed that there is (as Nigel Farage would say) not a cigarette paper between your lot and NuLabour. Apart, possibly, from a basic honesty on the part of NuLabour about their authoritarian agenda.
It’s true, of course, that not every UKIP voter is a former Tory. Then again, the relevant question is not ‘how did they vote before?’ but ‘if UKIP didn’t exist, how would they vote today?’ It seems not unreasonable to assume that the majority would support the most convincingly Eurosceptic party on offer.
Sorry, Dan, but remind me which one that is again...?
So let’s ask the question. Are there any circumstances in which UKIP and the Conservatives might combine? UKIP leaders keep saying that they’d gladly fold themselves into the Conservative Party if it became our policy to leave the EU, but such an eventuality seems unlikely, at least in the short term. It’s true that most Conservative voters would withdraw from the EU tomorrow. So would most party members. And so, I suspect, would most Tory MPs in a secret ballot. That, though, is not party policy.
Which is a round-about way of saying that the Conservative leadership does not represent the views of Tory MPs, Tory Party members or the rest of the country.
[Cameron] made two commitments to Eurosceptics before he became leader: first, that he would allow individual Conservatives, provided they were not frontbenchers, to campaign against EU membership...
Or, rather, that anyone who joined Better Off Out would not get any kind of Cabinet job. It's all a matter of perspective, eh?
... second, that he would withdraw his MEPs from the federalist EPP.
But not, of course, before ensuring that he could get enough MEPs to ensure that the new group would be big enough to get the EU funding accorded to those of a certain size.
Could there, then, be a Conservative-UKIP alliance while the Tories remain in favour of EU membership? Yes.
It's actually vanishingly unlikely.
Full independence is unlikely to be in the next manifesto; but an In/Out referendum might well be. And such a referendum ought to be enough.
Why? We all know that referendums have a tendency to be thoroughly ignored—or re-held until the "right" answer is given.
UKIP’s raison d’être is secession. Sure, it has other policies: tax cuts, selection in schools and so forth. But it exists, essentially, to restore British sovereignty. A referendum would take that issue off the agenda whichever way it went.
But UKIP's raison d'être is, as you say, not about a referendum, Dan: it's about leaving the EU.
And, let's face it, Dan, your claim that the Conservatives are "the most convincingly Eurosceptic party on offer" is on shaky ground. Should you doubt me, perhaps you can tell me who said this back in January?
So now we know: no repatriation, no renegotiation, business as usual. December's 'veto' turns out to be nothing of the kind; at best, it is a partial opt-out. Britain had asked for concessions in return for allowing the other member states to use EU institutions and structures for their fiscal compact. No such concessions were forthcoming, but we have given our permission anyway. The only difference is that, because the deal was done in a separate treaty structure, the PM doesn't have to put anything through the House of Commons. We had a generational opportunity to improve our relationship with the EU. That opportunity has passed.
Yes, Danny: it was you.
Some say that actions speak louder than words. Me? I believe that without actions your words are at best suspect and most certainly meaningless—all mouth and no trousers.
And the Buttered New Potato and his acolytes—who have a strangle-hold on your party and, alas, this country—have said many fine words (remember the Freedom Bill, the "veto", the promises to restore our freedoms?) but have, in fact, only cracked down even harder on our personal and civil liberties.
The other thing that you fail to appreciate, Dan, is encapsulated in these fragments of your own article...
... Reform spilled out from the western prairies, demanding radical decentralisation, tax cuts, a crackdown on crime and an end to multiculturalism...
Sure, [UKIP] has other policies: tax cuts, selection in schools and so forth.
UKIP has a highly active and enthusiastic youth wing—headed by highly intelligent libertarian businessman Harry Aldridge.
UKIP is not solely about withdrawal from the EU anymore: it was when I first joined back in 2006, but a number of us campaigned for—and contributed to—a fuller manifesto. And that manifesto is, with a few idiotic mistakes, largely libertarian in flavour. Just as Canada's Reform party wanted more than a desired outcome on a single issue, UKIP is now a party "demanding radical decentralisation, tax cuts, a crackdown on crime".
Further, UKIP is the party that understands that people want to have fun: Nigel Farage's well-known affiliation for a pint and a fag is a draw for those of us in this country who are sick and fucking tired of being lectured at by worthy, worthless, miserable fucking puritans.
So, whilst many UKIP members might be persuaded by your party's weasel-tongued promises on a referendum—will this be a "cast-iron" one again, Dan?—those who are developing UKIP's current and future direction are not interested: they are libertarians and lovers of freedom. They will not be conned by the Conservatives' lies and platitudes—because they are not conservatives.
There's a backlash coming, Dan: why do you think that the whole idea of state funding has reared its ugly head again...? The Big Three simply want to shut out the nimbler competitors—rather like the multi-nationals that your party's corporatist policies favour, in fact.
The Big Three parties are all morally bankrupt: this has become increasingly obvious and some of us have principles, Dan. The Conservatives will never have my backing ever again—and I think that most of the young UKIPpers feel the same way.
The previous generations have screwed up: it is time for you all to step aside and let the libertarian youth build a better, happier world.
UPDATE & DISCLAIMER: I rejoined UKIP in January. It just made sense—apart from their immigration policy.