Could UKIP (and Lisbon) cost Cameron his comfortable majority…?

I’ve a pretty chipper Tory mate who did have his party pegged for a 90 seat majority in the next parliament. But Simon Heffer probably raises an issue that most Tories don’t want to talk about in public… a possibly deleterious drift to UKIP in their long prepared and highly funded effort in the southern English marginals as a result of David Cameron’s climb down over Lisbon… I’ve not checked with my Tory mate since then…

I keep meeting Tory MPs who say that they are going to get a majority of 50 or 60 (though one did have the good manners the other day to tell me that, following the debacle of Mr Cameron’s European policy, it may be 20 fewer thanks to votes that will go to Ukip in various marginal seats). The party’s public pronouncements are (and this is a rarity) likely to be far more accurate than its private ones. The party is not agitating for an immediate election precisely because it is genuinely unsure that it can win it outright.

Much damage can be done in the next few months; not so much in Parliament (though that is possible, especially if there are any frivolous attempts to make little constitutional reforms that may end up having big consequences) as in the business of government, which we can expect to continue with its present level of incompetence and distraction. Too many Labour ministers are concentrating on their likely personal defeats, or on the defeat of their party, their need to survive in opposition and what camp to jump into in the leadership campaign that is likely to follow the election.

It is surprising, given those conditions, that the opposition is not livelier and noisier. It is handicapped, however, by an absence of firm policy to be lively and noisy about. Even this late in the day, it remains much easier for the Tories to be negative about what Labour does or proposes than to be positive about their own programme. The party is still resistant to hard political principles but flexible in the face of polling and focus group findings. It is hard for shadow spokesmen to try to develop policy when one of the teenagers in Central Office could get on the phone at any time and ask them to move sharply in the opposite direction.

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  • borderline

    The first sentence needs a spellcheck and an indefinite article.

  • Seymour Major

    I have not been in much doubt that waiting for Lisbon to be ratified was a crucial pre-requisite to Gordon Brown holding a general election. From time to time, bloggers and newspaper reporters have quoted Labour Strategists. Here is one of them.

    http://www.allbusiness.com/government/elections-politics-campaigns/13294599-1.html

    Since that article, we have had opinion polls showing the Conservative lead relatively unaffected by the position on Lisbon.

    UK are presently polling at about 5% Many of those who support them at Euro elections, do not support them at general or council elections. It is early days, of course, and it could a bit more time before we are sure of the probable changes in voting intentions.

    I personally dont think that it will effect the outcome of the general election by more than a handful of seats (if at all).

    As a Conservative, I dont have a problem with David Cameron’s aim to negotiate back lost sovereignty. I do have a problem with the means.

    Unless there is a threat to withdraw from Europe, our bargaining position is very weak. At some point, David Cameron is going to be asked – should Europe not grant anything, are there any circumstances in which it would be better for Britain to leave the EU? He will have to answer that question in public. I appreciate it is a “hot potatoe” but I also think there is still room for a re-think on this.

    It might be worth looking at how Harold Wilson handled Labour’s policy in 1974-75. Wilson’s policy was to re-negotiate and then have a referendum. He then threw his weight behind a “yes” campaign to stay in Europe. The “yes” campaign was supported by the 3 main parties.
    Europe was not a hot political issue at the 1979 election.

  • Seymour Major

    Sorry for the typo in the last comment

    I said “UK are presently polling at about 5%”

    It should have said “UKIP are presently polling at about 5%”

  • Sean Og

    What about the “hot potatoe”?

  • Greenflag

    Once a potential lead is cut to the 20 to 30 range anything is possible . Anybody remember the last Welsh Prime Ministerial certainty -Neil Kinnock ?

    The Tories are running out of gas it seems and they are still avoiding putting forward their ahem ‘corrective’ policies for fear that the diminishing lead will diminish further .

    The fact they are no longer calling for an immediate election speaks volumes . Thay have to hope that Gordon Brown makes the mother of all political boo boos between now and election day . The canny Scot is not done in yet !

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    SM,

    using your good moderate self as a euro-barometer of the pressure that must be building up inside the Tory party it heartening to read such a line as “Unless there is a threat to withdraw from Europe, our bargaining position is very weak. ”

    If ‘moderates’ like you can make statements like this then the answer to the question “Could UKIP (and Lisbon) cost Cameron his comfortable majority” must be a big YES.

    Ths is Tory politics at it’s most visceral and tribalistic and it must give El Gordo at least some slight cause for optimism.

    Greenflag,

    FYI PoshBoyDC was calling for an election today -I would attach zero importance to such calls anyway it is just about a bit of huffing and puffing, blather and jibber jabber.

  • Greenflag

    IWSMWDI ,

    Gordon Brown will hang on till the last opportune moment .

    Election Day will be June 3rd 2010 which gives the economy a good 6 months to improve and for the international financial situation to stabilise with perhaps some of the kudos rubbing off Gordy .

    A long enough time I would think for the British electorate to see through the weaknesses of the alternative PM and for the latter to make some more foreign and domestic policy booboos ?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    GreenFlag,

    re. “A long enough time I would think for the British electorate to see through the weaknesses of the alternative PM”

    People are fecked off with new Labour – too many lies and especially about Iraq – dont think economy or PoshBoyDC throwing a funny will be enough. UKIP are the only real hope and as Mr-moderate-Seymour-Major shows above this issue could (hopefully) tear them apart with the amusing possibility of Mr-Angry-Middle-Enlgand-Former-Tory-Man brandishing his ToryGraph and storming the polling booths to vote UKIP now a possibility.

  • Dave

    Dan Hannan lent a lot of credibility to the perception that Cameron is a eurosceptic when he backed him on that basis a couple of months ago and accepted a post as Tory legal affairs spokesman in the EP. When Cameron backpedalled, Hannan resigned his position. That was a very honourable move by Hannan that restored some of the trust that he lost by backing Cameron and assuring others that a referendum would happen. It is assumed that Cameron was telling porkies in private.

    Unfortunately, not everybody is as honourable as Dan Hannan, and a lot of so-called eurosceptics in the Tory party don’t seem to care a damn that Cameron’s actual policy is not to oppose EU integration in any way whatsoever while bullshitting voters (who are genuinely against EU integration) that the Tories support UK sovereignty. Folks like John Redwood, another deeply honourable Tory, seem content to dishonour themselves by doing nothing to oppose the Tory policy of doing nothing.

    If I lived in the UK, I’d be voting for the UKIP party and telling everyone I knew to do the same. If most UK citizens are as opposed to the EU as the polls suggest, then their true referendum will come by voting for the UKIP. If they vote for that party, then that’s game over: the UK is out of the EU, and free to make itself into a great nation once again.

  • LabourNIman

    The swing vote from Labour to Tory is going to be seriously ate into by UKIP and Greens (who, from what I hear are planning for one MP each).

    Single Issue parties are going to have a strong impact on the next election (well, apart from SNP that could lose a couple of seats) however their lack of policy on the important issues such as the economy (pulling out of europe won’t help and the greens ‘no nuclear’ message wont help fuel bills) are going to hold back mass migration to them.

    I don’t see the Lib Dems are a threat as Clegg just looks like a glory hunter when he appears in the headlines, waiting for the big two to make policy and him bash them for it.

    a 20 seat majority for the Tories is the best they can do. As time goes by Cameron is failing to motivate the public.

  • Greenflag

    Dave,

    ‘the UK is out of the EU, and free to make itself into a great nation once again. ‘

    Don’t you mean Great Empire Once Again ? For that is how Britain became a ‘great’ nation was it not ?

    How Britain becomes ‘great ‘ again is not my concern but as I look around what do I see ? A decimated financial services sector , a currency under threat , manufacturing and engineering gone offshore , burgeoning government deficits and the possibility of electing a Conservative government that seems to have all the foreign policy skills of Kim Il Sung the Dear Leader of North Korea !

    While I would certainly wish the British people the best of luck as they face into the next election and tough times ahead I would like to inform the UKIPPERS that in becoming ‘Great ‘ again the ‘acquisition’ of foreign ‘territory’ may be more difficult than the last time . The ‘natives ‘ now have machine guns and some have become extremely numerous .

    I guess then the first expansionary leap forward for a Greater Britain will eh once again have to be the smaller neighbour to her west ?:(

  • Greenflag

    ‘As time goes by Cameron is failing to motivate the public.’

    Indeed -He’s getting more and more like that Vague or was it Haig chap and that Ian Duncan something or other . They did’nt hang about for long either now that I recall .

  • Dave

    They will become a great nation again because of the quality of their people. They only need the freedom to advance their own national interest rather than to surrender the remaining sovereign powers of their state to the EU, ending up as a backward region of a backward state just like Ireland. Ireland isn’t actually a sovereign state since most of its government is now EU government and the remainder is UK government wherein the UK holds joint-sovereignty over vital and cultural institutions of the Irish state. You could fairly accuse the thick Micks of misgovernment of their state if they actually governed it.

  • Dave

    “… the UK holds joint-sovereignty over vital [b]political, economic[/b] and cultural institutions of the Irish state.”

  • DR

    It is in Camerons interest to play it low key atm. his biggest threat isnt europe its time, 6 months is still a long time to go, he knows the main thing is to keep a steady course for now and not get swayed by events too much, all the while chipping away at the government and saving his fight for the spring. He has no choice it would take a real disaster to force an early election, with a very slim chance of feb or march the earliest, early May is most likely as any later make Gordon look desperate to cling onto power as long as he can. Look back to the tone of the Tory conference and you will see how things were played down.
    Not that familar with English voters but UKIP specialise in Europe issues, I think most voters would not fancy them in charge of schools and hospitals, it will very much come down to their candidate selections i would guess if they can make any real impact.
    The FPTP system works great for the big two and mavericks but not those in the middle, which i guess is where UKIP is now.

  • Greenflag

    Dave ,

    ‘They will become a great nation again because of the quality of their people.’

    Good lord a proper little Lord Curzon , Baden Powell or Dizzy Raeli we have here and come again by jingo wallah wallah and waive the rules pukkah sahib bwana too 🙁

    I have a lot of respect for the British people and of the great Britons such as Darwin , Newton , Dalton , Churchill and many others but I’ve also been around the world and I’ve seen German engineering and niche marketing , American technology and Japanese efficiency not to mention a whole host of other countries whom the the ‘Great People’ now have to compete with on ahem ‘equal terms ‘. As we see from the latest figures the UK is expected to be the last major EU economy to come out of recession ? Now why would that be ?

    Sorry mate a new paradigm lies ahead for Britain and it’s not one that the UKIP or the Tories will enjoy . But it’s one that George Soros and others of that ilk will profit from at the expense of the British taxpayer:(

    Britain needs to join the Euro and make common cause with many of the smaller nations in the EU and help push more ‘democratic’ reforms and accountability standards in the decision making processes f the EU.

    Now that would be constructive intervention instead of the destructive path the UKIP and Tories are heading for.

    But keep waving the red white and blue . I believe it tastes just the same as green white and orange or black red and yellow ;)!

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Dave, a few people may have believed your constitutional ramblings were based on a detached analysis but I guess the lines below reveal a somewhat less pleasant foundation.

    “You could fairly accuse the thick Micks of misgovernment of their state if they actually governed it.”

  • Greenflag

    IWSMWDI ,

    ‘a few people may have believed your constitutional ramblings were based on a detached analysis ‘

    Few ? What few ? Not I said the Greenflag – Not I said hundreds more .

    ‘But I do’ said Dave

    Well so he might 😉