Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Sorry, Mr. Cameron, But UKIP Has Many Foxes

Well, if the headlines are to believed this morning, then David Cameron is about to pledge an In/Out Referendum on EU Membership after the next election.

It's quite easy to see his strategy here. Firstly, he hopes that he will "shoot UKIP's fox" by offering the referendum, allowing ex-Tory voters to return to the fold in time for the next election. Assuming the Conservatives form the next government, then despite the almost certainly choreographed huffing and puffing  from senior EU sources stating that no renegotiation is possible, clearly some cosmetic changes will be afforded. That will allow Cameron to claim a great victory, even though it is nothing of the kind.  He and other EUphiles will then campaign to stay in the EU in the subsequent referendum, banking cynically on the publics fear of change.

On the subject of UKIP's support, his major difficulty is that UKIP these days has many foxes. Behind the curve as usual, Cameron and his fellow cronies don't realise that UKIP has come to represent mainstream thinking on a whole range of issues for people repelled by what they see as an arrogant and remote MetroLib Establishment. Moreover, Europe lags significantly behind immigration as a priority issue for UKIP inclined voters.

It is for these reasons that Cameron's strategy regarding UKIP voters is likely to backfire spectacularly. Yes, we may take a short-term hit in the polls, probably a significant one,  and the "UKIP surge" will be triumphantly written off by a relieved establishment that will go back to it's complacent, arrogant ways. But in the medium term it is likely to bolster the respect for the party seen to have taken on an invincible elite and won though sheer tenacity and determination.

And if it can be done once, then it can be done again and again on issue after issue. Given the deep public unease over immigration and the coming influx of Romanians and Bulgarians in 2014 many will feel that voting UKIP may finally bring the establishment to heel over that issue as it has done on the EU question.

In conclusion, when you look at the bigger picture, UKIP's major triumph is not to force a referendum on the European question, significant though that is,  but to give a cowed and apathetic British electorate hope that their voices will, in the end, be heard.

No doubt it will continue to be very tough, and at times demoralising. But keep on fighting, and in the end the field will be ours.