It is fair to say that the endless talk of pacts between UKIP and other parties is a sensitive issue amongst UKIP members. Previously, reports that Nigel Farage discussed the possibilities of a UKIP-Tory pact over dinner with Rupert Murdoch were received with less than unalloyed joy. Now, Farage announces that he could indeed see a pact with a Boris-lead Tory party,and that he would be happy to explore the possibility of a pact “with theDevil” if it lead to our country exiting from the European Union. This latter comment was interpreted to mean that Nigel would be happy to do a deal with Labour or even the Liberal Democrats, assuming, of course, that he doesn’t regard either as worse than the Devil.
The UKIP strategy is now becoming clear. Sending out the message that UKIP would deal with a Boris-led Tory party further undermines David Cameron's position. At the same time, hinting at the potential for a deal with Labour means that it's notoriously tribal supporters will have less fear of at least “lending” their vote to UKIP in forthcoming local elections, the South Shields byelection and of course 2014 European elections, all adding to our momentum.
A strategy that places greater emphasis on undermining Labour support in the run up to the 2015 General Election also makes strategic sense at this time: it is an ever growing concern that some form of Labour – Liberal coalition will be formed after the next election, and the Liberal Democrats especially will use the opportunity to lock us forever into the EU structures. Indeed, it was reported recently that the Lib Dems, obsessed as they are with constitutional matters above all else, are starting to explore some form of constitution for the UK to be put into place after the next election. You can bet the house that whatever is put forward would be designed with ultimate subservience to Europe in mind. Even a majority Labour government maybe happy to indulge the Lib Dems in this: after all, Labour were not adverse to outrageous gerrymandering of the system for their own ends when in power.
To stop this happening, a more Eurosceptic position from the Labour party must be locked in prior to the next General Election, so holding out the olive branch of a pact makes sense. Moreover, as the recent debacles on welfare and immigration have shown, Labour is now hideously vunerable, being wholly out of touch with their voting base on both highly emotive issues. If UKIP start making serious inroads into Labour support in the run up to the 2015 election and it becomes a very close race, it’s likely that both Tory and Labour parties will seek to move more closely to UKIP’s position in an ever more frenetic bidding war. Meanwhile UKIP has to do nothing more than drop appropriate hints here and there, while always keeping it’s options open.
Thus, rather like Queen Elizabeth who constantly played off her two more powerful rivals, France and Spain, against each other, Farage’s UKIP is a maid who will be “wooed but never won”.
None of this, of course, resolves the dilemma of what exactly we would do if we found ourselves in the position of being able to forge “a pact with the Devil” after 2015. Having made so much of being apart from the corrupt consensus, how would we not be inevitably tainted by association?
And that’s the ultimate problem with pacts with the Devil. As the saying goes, when you sup with him, it’s best to use a long spoon.