Thursday, 24 May 2012

Farage: No deal offered to anyone

Nigel Farage has released the following statement following claims in the Spectator that he has offered to merge UKIP with the Tories or to stand candidates on a joint ticket at the next election:
Dear UKIP Member

When was the last time you saw
Cast Iron Dave™ crack a smile?
In this week's Spectator, there is an article by James Forsyth talking about potential deals between UKIP and Conservatives. This has already been followed up by the Press Association, Dan Hannan and Conservative Home.

I think it is important to point out that at no stage have I offered a deal, or any intention to stand down, to anyone.

My plans are clear: that we must contest more local election seats than ever before, and prepare to stand everywhere at the next General Election.

Many Conservative Associations now fear that an alliance with the Liberal Democrats could be put to the electorate next time; an alliance which would see both parties' names appearing on the ballot paper under single candidate. Indeed, electoral law has been changed to allow such an arrangement.

As David Cameron has already spoken of a 'Conservative-led' government after 2015, their fears are well founded. The vast majority of Conservative Associations would prefer an alliance with UKIP.

My own view is that any such alliance could only be contemplated after a promise to give the country a fair In-Out EU referendum had been made an unbreakable Manifesto pledge.

For that to happen, we would need to pose an even greater electoral threat than at present.

Please remember that this whole debate is only happening because of your hard work and the very solid recent local election results.

We must prepare for the 2013 County Council elections now.

Yours sincerely, Nigel Farage.
Some members have been quite vocal about the Spectator's claims but there are several reasons why it just wasn't plausible, primary of which is that Nigel Farage has no authority to enter into this type of agreement without a vote of the membership - indeed, nobody in the party has the authority to do so without a mandate from the membership.

There is simply no appetite in the party for a coalition or any type of alliance with the Tories and why should there be?  Other than being notionally right of centre and broadly conservative, what else do the two have in common?  Let's do a quick comparison of UKIP and Tory policy on key issues:

EULike the majority of the population, want the UK to leave the EULike the majority of politicians, wants the UK to be integrated even further into the EU
ImmigrationFreeze economic immigration for 5 years then introduce points-based system for everyone wanting to move hereOpen borders to anyone and everyone who wants to move here, anyone from EU entitled to social housing and benefits
DefenceProperly funded military capable of defending our interests at home and abroadSharing an aircraft carrier with the French
EconomyShrink government as much as possible, bring £1tr public sector pensions into line with private sector, introduce flat tax and raise threshold to take low paid out of the tax system altogetherMore government, more tax
EducationExpand the grammar school system so children get an education suited to their needs and abilities, restore status of universities to institutions providing top quality higher education in useful subjects to people who will make use of itContinue the war against academic selection forcing children who will benefit most from a vocational education to persist in a one-size-fits all education system, suffering humiliation and disenchantment in the process
CrimeLife means life, punish criminals properly, more police on the streets, withdraw from the EU Arrest Warrant, put the rights of victims firstSoft on crime, soft on punishment, cut police budgets and officers
HealthProvide NHS vouchers for those who prefer to see a doctor privately, free opticians and dentists on the NHS, put matrons back in charge of wardsKeep throwing more and more money at a failing system

I see very little common ground there on any of the big issues.  There is plenty of common ground with most ordinary members of the Conservative Party but they don't make policy and have proven to be either incapable or unwilling to unseat the idiots at the top that do.

UKIP is a political party - the number three party in the UK and the second largest UK party in the EU Parliament.  We are not a Tory pressure group, nor are we a eurosceptic think tank or campaign.  UKIP had the largest and most comprehensive manifesto of the four main parties at the last election, putting the policy books of the LibLabCon parties to shame.  We are here to win elections, not force the Tories or Labour into holding a referendum on the EU by picking off their councillors, MPs and MEPs one by one or by attracting large numbers of their members to UKIP.  We don't need to form a coalition with the Tories because we are capable of doing what we need to do ourselves.  We certainly don't need to form an alliance with the Tories or stand joint candidates because we are strong enough in our own right.

It is a misconception that all UKIPpers are disaffected Tories and that if Cameron promised a referendum on membership of the EU then we would all "come home" to the Conservative Party.  Firstly, who would believe him if he did promise a referendum?  He gave a Cast Iron Guarantee™ of a referendum on the EU Constitution and went back on that promise.  The public forced a parliamentary vote on membership of the EU through a petition and he whipped his MPs to vote it down and deny us a referendum.  What reason is there to believe that we would get a referendum if he promised one or that the questions wouldn't be rigged to provide the "right" answer?

Secondly, we are not all disaffected Tories.  In fact, the youth wing of UKIP - Young Independence - is growing at a fair old rate of knots and a sizeable proportion of these new members aren't old enough to have belonged to any other political party.  Others (myself included) have never even voted Tory, let alone been members of the Conservative Party.  It's like listening to the BNP talk about sending immigrants "home" when they were born here and have only ever left the country for a fortnight's holiday on the Costa del Sol.  Just because someone's got brown skin doesn't mean England isn't home and just because someone is a member of UKIP doesn't mean the Conservative Party is their natural home.

Conservative MEP, Dan Hannan, has written in his Telegraph column today suggesting that UKIP should merge with the Tories and stand joint candidates in the next election.  I think all his points have pretty much been covered off above but if they haven't, the hundreds of comments largely telling him either that he's come up with the best plan to save the Tories or to bog off, UKIP wouldn't touch the Tories with a barge pole, should do.
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