There is, though, a more fundamental point about UKIP that the Tories disregard at their peril. It is no longer a single-issue party, campaigning for withdrawal from Europe. It also believes in low taxes, a smaller state, immigration controls, grammar schools and an English parliament. As such, it is very attractive to conservative-minded people. Worse for Mr Cameron, its new leader, Nigel Farage, is highly articulate, plain-spoken, experienced (he has been an MEP for eight years), attracting much media attention and highly politically motivated. As they do with the editor of the Mail, the Tories can shrug UKIP off, but they would be making another big mistake.
In a supremely smug article on this subject last Friday, the weekly bible of the bien-pensant class, the Economist, warned Mr Cameron about UKIP, saying that "to bend even slightly in its direction, however, would guarantee not only defeat, but ridicule". Really? I would concede that for the Tories to announce withdrawal from the EU would be a little breathtaking. But what about the rest that UKIP stands for? Would a Tory shift towards grammar schools, lower taxes, a smaller state, controlled immigration and democratic equality for England really have the party's opponents howling with hysterical laughter, and the voters stampeding for Gordon Brown? Somehow, I doubt it.
The Conservatives Party has, as Lord Pearson and Lord Willoughby de Broke put it, left its voters, not the other way around. A... hem hem... reliable source has relayed a conversation between Nigel Farage and a certain economic and political giant of the 80s, in which said giant expressed the following: "Right behind you, dear chap. As, of course, is Margaret."
What will Iain Dale say when he realises that his fave living Tory leader is more than supportive of the "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists" (a remark which, by the way, has ensured that your humble Devil will never vote for a Cameron-led Conservative Party)?
I wonder if he will stop passing on ludicrous and frankly illiterate non-stories about UKIP of the sort that Guido was peddling recently?
Guido is told that he exacted a promise from Nigel Farage as a condition of joining. UKIP, Pearson was promised, would not field candidates against Eurosceptic Tory candidates.
That is hardly the scoop of the year, frankly. It was a position that UKIP adopted after Farage—who had pushed for this back in 2004—was elected in September.
Pearson does not believe that defeating friendly anti-EU allies would serve the national interest.
I disagree with the good Lord there, personally, but I agree with it as a UKIP strategy at present.
In 2005 UKIP were reckoned to have cost the Tories six seats, including in Thanet South where the candidate was an ardent anti-EU campaigner.
I think that I'll quote Trixy's comment in reply to this one.
Would this be the same Mark MacGregor who was, in fact,a rabid Europhile and who Norman Tebbit told people not to vote for on the grounds that he was not a proper conservative? The same person that Simon Heffer came down to Broadstairs for to speak against?
And as someone who campaigned down in Thanet South, most of our support came from people who either did not vote anymore, or Old Labour. The residents of Sandwich were still hoping that the Conservative party might actually be conservative.
And just to finish off this delightful little harangue, I'll copy in my comment on the same post.
[I'm] fucking bored of all these piss-artist, short-trousered, say-anything-to-get-into-power, venal, corrupt Conservatives who seem to believe that another political party -- which happens to advocate many of the things that their own party leadership believed in before they sold out to the Reds -- has no right to stand in a pluralist democracy.
Grow up, or fuck off.
And for those of you who think that the EU is not an issue: at what fucking point is an organisation that controls about 80% of our legislation -- whether we want it to or not -- not "a big issue"?
Again, grow up.
You cannot advocate membership of the EU and be a Eurosceptic. All of this cant about "in Europe but not run by Europe" is the biggest load of donkey crap I've ever heard.
If you are in Europe, then you are run by Europe: there are no fucking half-way houses here. If you vote for a party that is dedicated to remaining within the EU -- and the Tories, by Chairman Mau's... sorry, Maud's own admission, are committed to being so -- then you are voting to be ruled by an unelected, foreign bureaucracy.
End of story; there's no grey areas. That's it. Okay? 'Kay? Kay.
With Maggie behind UKIP, as well as... ooops, Chatham House rules, sorry... and, by the sound of it, Lord Tebbit, I think that we all know who the real conservatives are.
But, as Trixy said, it was previous Labour supporters and—absolutely fucking crucially—non-voters who put their tick in the UKIP box at Thanet. 'Cos let's face it, these non-voters were about 40% of the country at the last general election.
As for the EU, well, I'm afraid that you Conservatives, Labourites and LibDems are all of the wrong side and it's the side that says, "we want to be ruled from the statist centre by unelected apparachiks."
The last time we came across a power like that*, we were rather worried that they'd invade us, weren't we...?
Oh, and India's still lovely, cheers. What's that, you say? Snowing in Tunbridge Wells...?
UPDATE: in the meantime, if Margaret is reading this, she might like to have a gander at this transcript of Nigel Farage's recent interview on GMTV which contains such choice quotes as...
I’ve yet to meet a businessman/woman who wants business in the UK to be run by Peter Mandelson.
Cameron must not be allowed to get away with this. He promised to quit the EPP, hasn't and won't. He is the first Conservative leader for many, many years who wants more EU. He wants the EU to have more power over climate change for instance. He has accepted that the EU makes 70% of our laws and does not intend to do a thing about it.
[The number of defectors to UKIP] works out at about two or three people a day telephoning us who want to leave the Cameron-led Conservatives to come over to UKIP. But these two or three a day are hard-working activists, senior councillors and constituency officials. They are office holders and significant political activists. People do not defect to us on the basis of one speech. When you have spent 30 years being a voluntary worker in the Conservative Party you don’t join us on one speech. You think about it for a while and then join us.
The Conservative Party do not believe in low tax, they don’t believe that that we should control our own borders, they don’t believe in grammar schools and they don’t believe that we should run our own country. What’s the point of the Conservatives I ask?
We’re not targeting Conservatives. We are out to win seats from all the parties. We are targeting all three parties. They are indistinguishable from each other. They’re all the same – whether it’s Labour or Blue Labour (the Cameron-led Conservative Party). We want power back from the EU to govern ourselves.
All the parties: do you hear, my Tory chums? We are out to take seats from all parties, so stop whining that UKIP are simply ego-centric Tory-wreckers. Just because you can't win the argument of ideas, you rampant, spineless cum-children of doom! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahaha!
Your humble Devil is certainly out to fuck up every other party because every other party is pro-EU and therefore every member of those other parties, however they may protest, are traitors. Savvy?
* Yes, you fool, I am talking about the USSR. Can't you see the similarities?