In the heady atmosphere of the last few days, a devastating analysis by Survation, based on the work of Professors Colin Railings and Michael Thrasher, perhaps hasn't quite the attention it deserved. It should be required study by UKIP's (and for that matter, Tory) strategists as they revisit that tired old favourite, a Tory-UKIP pact (or should that now be a UKIP-Tory pact?) in order to stop some form of pro-European, big-state government after the next General Election.
The above graph from the report basically shows the projected composition of UKIP voters, based on their former allegiance, as the party's popularity increases.
It's basic conclusion is that UKIP's current level of support (c.16%) is at the worst possible level as far as the Tory Party is concerned. After this point, new defectors are mainly from the Labour Party, gradually diluting the Tory share of the overall total.
Like all models it has it's limitations, of course. It's most significant one is that it appears to commit the common error of entirely ignoring voters who hitherto have not voted for any of the other three main parties. That is a particularly significant failing where UKIP is concerned as the Eastleigh result showed that we are receiving significant support from people who have not voted for a considerable time.
Secondly, it also doesn't take into account that many of the Tory defectors to UKIP are so alienated from their former party that they will in no circumstances vote for it again, so it doesn't follow that if some external shock caused a sudden drop in UKIP popularity at this point, the Tories would necessary gain from that. (Note that this is also an exceptionally important point to consider when calculating whether a pact is worthwhile, as it simply does not follow that the absence of a UKIP candidate under any kind of pact arrangement would result in many more Tory votes.)
Nonetheless, the basic argument seems to tally very strongly with subjective feelings that increasingly the party is taking it's support from Labour, not the Tories. There are sound reasons why this should be so. Our good friend Agent Cameron and his helpful Old Boy pals has just about exhausted the ways he can disappoint, insult and humiliate his own base. If people have not left the Tory fold by now, it's increasingly likely they will stick with the party through thick and thin, or at least until after the next election when they think they can get rid of him. The other side of the coin is that the looming issue of Romanian and Bulgarian immigration is one that impacts largely on Labour's working class voter base, who are very much less than happy with Labour's record on the issue and have ceased to trust the party and it's thoroughly Metropolitan leadership on it.
It follows that, even for the Tories, a Tory-UKIP pact would only remotely make sense if UKIP found itself stagnating on around the level of support it has now. But the fact is, we have considerable momentum. As UKIP continues to gain support, the paradox from this study is that the rational behind a pact starts to fade. Moreover, we will witness Nigel Farage's dream of sucking all major parties in our direction, as Labour will not be able to stand aloof from what many on the left are still spinning as a basically internal argument in the "Tory" family.
Most significantly - and this can not be repeated often enough - a Tory-UKIP pact would all but destroy the prospects we have with Labour voters. It would kill our advance in the Labour dominated areas of the North (and by extension Wales and Scotland) absolutely stone dead. Few people born outside the North really understand the depth of visceral hatred for the Tories in these areas. That hatred extends in spades to any "class traitor" seen to be collaborating with them. If you want evidence of that, look at the total collapse of the Liberal Democrat vote in South Shields. If you factor in that many former Tory voters are not going to return, at least while Cameron remains leader, the final irony is that from this point onwards, a Tory-UKIP pact could be severely damaging for Tory prospects: it would probably place a hard ceiling on UKIP support at perhaps the level it is now - in other words at the point it does maximum damage to the Tory vote.
Finally, returning to the issue of those who vote for UKIP who come from the biggest party of all - the abstention party - a pre General Election pact would run a very significant risk of looking like exactly the kind of Political Class stitch-up we are always condemning the other parties for. The impact on our support from people desperate for an end to the old politics could be very substantial. It could also significantly damage the morale of many of our own activists who joined the party for that very reason.
If we do gain seats at Westminster, plainly UKIP will have to consider it's options, but to engage in a pact with the fragile and decaying Tories risks permanently alienating those we need to continue building our party. It is, in short, just plain suicide. Far more positive in every single way to carry forging on as we are doing.
Saturday, 4 May 2013
Another Nail In The Intellectual Coffin of a Tory-UKIP Pact