Friday, 1 March 2013

I agree with Dan Hannan - the nation needs the Conservatives and UKIP to work together

I've long said that the Conservatives and UKIP should find a way of working together to ensure that not only do we see a strong centre right Government returned in Britain but that many former Conservatives should 'come home'.
Since 2010 we have been saddled with the Curse of Clegg and his increasingly colourful clan who ae really now beginnning to show their true colours for any of us not able to see it before. They should not take comfort from retaining Eastleigh yesterday with such a dramatic fall in support, even if clinging to the seat seemed inconceivable with the trust and sleeze revelations that have been exposed in the weeks leading up to polling day.
As I and an increasing number of others have said before, those of us with the same beliefs, currently residing in the Conservative and UKIP parties, need to find a way of working together to deliver for Britain and prevent Clegg's Nasty Crew or the Gordon Brown's clones Silliband & Balls from coming back 2015 to send us over the edge.
South East MEP, Dan Hannan has this to say on why the Conservatives and UKIP need each other and need to find a way of working together in all of our interests:
In 1993, Canada’s Conservatives were wiped out. The governing party lost all but two of its 156 MPs and began a lengthy spell 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. For the next ten years, Progressive Conservative and Reform candidates fought each other in most ridings (as Canadian constituencies are called), with calamitous consequences. The Liberals were left almost unchallenged in the House of Commons. For several years, the Official Opposition was the Bloc Québécois, whose 13.5 per cent of the national vote was enough to give it the second-largest number of parliamentary seats.
Only at the end of 2003 did the two Rightist parties accept the electoral arithmetic and merge. Since then, they have enjoyed a more or less unbroken rise. Their leader, the excellent Stephen Harper, became prime minister in 2006, and won an absolute majority in 2011. The new, merged party – today’s Conservative Party – reaches parts of the electorate that the old Progressive Conservatives couldn’t. Canada’s Tories, like Britain’s, had been disadvantaged by being seen as a party for the better off. Reform brought a very different constituency into the fold: rural voters, blue-collar workers, ethnic minorities.
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. 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.
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.
Fair enough. David Cameron made his views perfectly clear when he sought the leadership, and was elected with a thumping mandate. He 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; second, that he would withdraw his MEPs from the federalist EPP. He has delivered on both commitments. Leaving the EU was never part of the picture.
Could there, then, be a Conservative-UKIP alliance while the Tories remain in favour of EU membership? Yes. Full independence is unlikely to be party policy; but an In/Out referendum might well be. And such a referendum ought to be enough. 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. Either Britain would vote to leave, at which point UKIP supporters could award themselves medals and retire with honour; or – which is, alas, a possibility – the country would vote to stay in, in which case UKIP (and I) would have to admit defeat and do something else with our lives. Either way, the door would be open to a Canadian-style merger and a commensurate rise in support. That’s not why the Conservatives should offer a referendum, of course; they should offer one because it’s the right thing to do. In this case, though, doing the right thing would carry a tangible electoral benefit.
There will, of course, be opponents on both sides. There always are. Twenty-three years after the Liberal-SDP merger, there is still an irreconcilable Liberal Party, which holds 25 council seats, and even a tiny SDP, with four councillors in East Yorkshire. Some UKIP supporters will resent the idea of losing their identity just when things seem to be taking off. Some Tories – especially the remaining Europhiles – will baulk at the idea of admitting so many ‘populists’. There may even be a few who are foolish enough to think that they can recapture the UKIP vote by making strongly anti-Brussels noises in the run-up to the next election. (Trust me, my friends, that one won’t wash.)
At present, the anti-Brussels vote is fragmented, with the result that a Eurosceptic nation keeps returning Euro-enthusiast majorities. Every activist who leaves the Conservatives for UKIP makes the Tories less Eurosceptic without taking his energies to an alternative party of government. That is neither in the Conservative Party’s interests nor, indeed, in the interests of anyone who wants an independent Britain. All of which, in any case, ought really to be beside the point. Holding a referendum is right in principle.

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