Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Nigel Farage - Tories should be careful what they wish for

Jonathan Calder has pointed out in an excellent post today that some of the leading Tory bloggers have been cheering on Nigel Farage in his bid to unseat new Commons Speaker John Bercow in his Buckingham seat. As Jonathan says:

"Yes He Can!" crows Tory Bear, complete with Obamaesque graphic.

"Go Nigel Go" cries Dizzy Thinks.

And Iain Dale says: "I'm glad I don't live in Buckingham." (I take this an admission that he would find it hard to maintain party loyalty if he lived in the constituency, rather than as a general assault on the this blameless Home Counties town.)

I suspect they reflect a much wider sentiment in the Tory party that John Bercow is not really a proper Tory and that he was imposed on them by Labour as a punishment for them getting rid of Michael Martin. They would shed no tears if Bercow lost his seat, and I think they would see this as just desserts.

However I reckon they are not thinking this through properly. As fun as it would be for them to see Bercow uncermoniously ejected from the Commons they would then have the leader of UKIP sitting on the green benches. This might not matter too much at first. On current polls Cameron is likely to have a healthy majority and should be able to bat Farage away during his honeymoon period.

But what happens when issues like Europe come to the fore? What happens when Cameron has to make the decision on what to do about the Lisbon Treaty? What about other issues where the political compass of the Tory Party is far closer to UKIP than its own leadership?

Currently Nigel Farage is an irritant outside the House to the Tories. Nigel Farage MP would have an even bigger irritant effect. You can imagine that eventually there could be defections to UKIP and with their leader already in the House the temptation for disillusioned Tories to make the break would be even greater.

The worst thing though for the Tories would be in the run-up to the election after next. After 4 or 5 probably very hard years in power as they have tried to drag the country out of the economic slump we are now in Cameron is not likely to be riding very high in the polls. The votes that UKIP will take from the Tories in that election could easily be the difference between keeping and losing power.

With Nigel Farage in the Commons, with or without possible Tory defections, UKIP's profile will be much bigger in a General Election than it is now. The extra kudos that goes with having their leader as an MP could easily tip the balance and force Cameron from power.

Those Tory bloggers who are currently giving overt or tacit support to Nigel Farage should think very carefully about what they are doing. They should look 15 moves ahead on the chessboard. Not 3.


Stephen Glenn said...

Personally I think the Patzer's haven'tt even seen beyond the juicey looking peice being offered up on the next move, let alone 3.

Stu said...

Or perhaps those bloggers have started caring less about what's good for Cameron and more about whether they'd prefer Farrage or Bercow, regardless of party stripes.

You're putting forward a case based on party tactics and strategy, they're talking about what they'd like to see from politicians.

I'm tellin' ya, the age of the independent politician is dawning.

(Incidentally, Dizzy isn't a 'Conservative Blogger', even if he's a member of the Tory party. He's spoken several times before about voting/considering UKIP.)

Mark Wadsworth said...

You're saying all this as if it were a bad thing.

Having Nigel as an MP would be brilliant! That the Tories would then disintegrate may be desirable but highly unlikely. If they did, then we could have a proper debate - small govt versus big govt.

Mark Reckons said...

Stu - I didn't realise about Dizzy but fair enough. I was quoting Jonathan's piece there but I did also think he was a Conservative blogger. Noted for the future.

Soho Politico said...

Since I have said as much over on my blog, I guess I should say over here too that I think you have got this analysis wrong. The Tory bloggers cheering Farage know exactly what they are wishing for. On Europe, and on some other issues, they are closer to UKIP than they are to their own leadership. They would like nothing better than if the party had to move rightwards to prevent defections to a UKIP contingent in the Commons. In fact they are almost certainly looking forward to the day when the Conservative Party can assimilate UKIP, because there are no longer any differences in policy between them.

Mark Reckons said...

SP, fair point but if that happens and they vacate the centre ground their electoral fate will be sealed as well.

I have posted similar back on your blog - thanks for the link.

Soho Politico said...

Well, the bloggers in question clearly don't see it like that - they have some odd ideas both about where the centre-ground is, and about how right-wing the electorate is, so they will not take your advice. An interesting question is whether it would in fact be an electoral liability for the Tories to move rightwards on Europe specifically. I have always suspected that the Tories during their wilderness years were not discredited owing to their euroscepticism, but rather that euroscepticism was discredited because is was associated with the Tories. After all, the truth is that the Tories under Cameron have been happy to cede even more of the centre ground over Europe (withdrawing from the EPP), and it has yet to hurt them...

dizzy said...

Actually, I'm not a member anymore either. I have not paid them any money for at least two years.

The Great Simpleton said...

Your post is only half* right. You assume that only the Tories will have internal problems over further EU integration. The more the EU pushes "ever closer union" the more Lib Dems and Labour divisions will be exposed.

Ireland's 2nd vote on Lisbon, irrespective of which way it goes, is another small cut in the EU's popularity. And because of ever closer union there will be another treaty at some point which will put further pressure on all the pro EU parties. With Farage in Westminster and not subject to party whips it will be hard for the EU's biggest cheer leader, the BBC, to ignore those divisions.

*should that be 1/3 right or should I use PR to apportion the impact ;-)