Samuel Kerr charts the growing strength of UKIP and says David Cameron has much to worry about.
How David Cameron must now be starting to regret his claim that UKIP were a party of ‘Fruitcakes and Loonies’. A party that for a long period looked likely to stay on the fringes of British politics now appears to be ready to burst into the forefront.
Not only did the Eurosceptic party push the Conservatives into an embarrassing third place in the recent Eastleigh by-election, but now it has been revealed that Mr Farage has recently attended a ‘sit down’ with the media’s most significant kingmaker, Rupert Murdoch.
An audience with the Australian emperor of News Corp is significant in the fact that it shows that Nigel Farage is becoming a political player of some significance. Murdoch rarely wastes his time on political no-hopers, and the revelation that he has been talking to Nigel Farage about the 2015 General Election will undoubtedly have grabbed Mr Cameron’s attention.
Now, we must accept that the details of such a meeting are not likely to be revealed in full. However, the word amongst most political commentators seems to be that UKIP would be prepared to fight the 2015 election in partnership with the Tories if David Cameron was removed as party leader.
Such a revelation presents the Tory right with an interesting opportunity. It is no secret that David Cameron is unloved by many of the Conservative Party’s traditionalist members and that many of his own MP’s would happily wound the PM from the backbenches.
Perhaps we shall see more dissent as we enter the ides of this month? This talk will inevitably lead to the same old names being bandied about by the press – perhaps Adam Afriyie will emerge as the fresh face of conservatism, or maybe Theresa May will become the new Iron lady. There are still rumblings in the ranks about the possibility of convincing London’s blue eyed mayor to wear the crown; he is after all undoubtedly the nation’s favourite Conservative.
The debate on the identity of the next leader is still mere speculation. However, it is now a real possibility that a Conservative-UKIP pact could be on the cards if the Prime Minister is ousted before 2015. This would be a logistical headache and it remains to be seen whether the Conservatives would be willing to leave seats uncontested in order to give UKIP their first MPs.
However, what is most significant is that this trend shows that David Cameron’s attempts at modernising the Conservative Party, one of the oldest institutions in British politics, has failed. By its detractors, the Conservatives are still seen as unsympathetic, and many in Cameron’s own party see him as a weak liberal who is out of touch with the views of members.
Nigel Farage has become the poster boy of the right. Farage is presenting himself as the mouthpiece of the disenfranchised and those whose views have been marginalised by centrist politics and social liberalism.
A Conservative-UKIP alliance would undoubtedly be very different from our current LibCon coalition. Gone would be the social policies that have so angered the right. We would see foreign aid cut and defence spending rise and this new partnership would undoubtedly campaign for an OUT vote in the European referendum in the next parliament.
For years, Nigel Farage has been ridiculed for being too right-wing for the mainstream and his Party criticised for being nothing more than the ‘BNP in blazers’. This is no longer the case. UKIP are undoubtedly now a political player that the major parties need to take seriously, a Party that is aiming to take half the seats in the next European elections.
The Prime Minister once thought that UKIP were nothing more than right wing loonies who were out of touch with the public. This notion is now redundant – David Cameron must begin to tread carefully because these ‘loonies’ are on the rise.