Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Monday, 22 March 2010

Why does Daniel Hannan want UKIP to die?

Junius on UKIP has drawn my attention to a recent blog post by Tory MEP and arch Euro-sceptic Daniel Hannan entitled "A response to my UKIP-supporting readers".

In it he suggests that because the only people who are likely to be PM after the general are either Gordon Brown or David Cameron and that UKIP cannot win seats, UKIP supporters should vote Conservative.

He goes on to say:

What I’d ideally like – and what I assume my UKIP readers also aspire to – is a situation where UKIP no longer needs to exist: where it can award itself a medal and retire with honour, job done. Obviously, we’re not at that point yet. But I worry that every activist who deserts the Tories for UKIP is retarding the prospects of a Euro-sceptic Conservative Party without taking his or her energies to an alternative party of government.

On the issue of Europe which appears to be vital to him, Hannan does not agree with his own leadership and instead agrees with UKIP. The only reason as far as I can tell that Hannan has not already defected to them is because he thinks he has more chance of getting what he wants on this by staying in the Conservative Party. The reason for this is because of our first past the post electoral system. It forces people like UKIP supporters into a position where they have to choose either to vote for their principles (and hence effectively waste their vote) or vote for an option that they don't really want to win but is the least worst option.

In the European elections last year, UKIP came second nationally with 16.5% of the vote. That was under an electoral system that is more proportional (although I personally do not like the D'Hondt system used and favour STV for Westminster). It shows that on this issue there is broad support for UKIP.

If we had a more proportional system for Westminster it is reasonable to assume that UKIP's Westminster vote (2.2% in 2005) would go up significantly as one of the main barriers to people voting for them is that one that Hannan mentions, they can't win seats. But it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. They do so badly because people think they can't win. If suddenly there was a system that would give them their fair share then suddenly all bets are off.

I suspect that one of the reasons most Tories oppose any sort of electoral reform for Westminster is because they are afraid that it would lock them out of power permanently. They seem to fear that there would be some sort of permanent Lib/Lab coalition. I am sure this would not happen. There is no reason why we could not see a combined Conservative and UKIP administration under a system that gave fair votes.

To be fair to Hannan, he is one of the few Tories I have seen being more receptive to the idea of electoral reform (along with his close political ally Douglas Carswell) but it is situations like this that for me test how strong the principles are.

Instead of arguing for tactical voting against UKIP, he should be shouting as loud as he can that it is the electoral system that is causing this and trying to persuade his colleagues in the Conservative Party of this fact.

Arguing for the death of a political party that he largely agrees with just because the electoral system is unfair to it is not the right way to try and get the change our electoral system needs. It Is in fact an attempt to lock in perpetuity the binary choice that increasing number of people in this country are sick of and UKIP's showing last year confirms.


Anonymous said...

With respect I think the article was quite clear, Hannan was asking for UKIP'ers to respect that within other parties (from all sides) there are people who believe in addressing the EU question.

Political reform is not even mentioned. What's bluster is any mention that voting for a smaller party will result in nothing - effectively a wasted vote, which was not explicitly put either.

Of all the "wasted votes" yet to come at the next general election, the parties in Westminster will be keen to know why they couldn't attract their vote and policy change will at that point then be dissected and re-explored to see just how each of the main three and hoover up those disaffected people come the next election - and if there's a balanced parliament that may be a lot sooner than normal (so pundits suggest.)


Anonymous said...

As a member back in the '70's of the Young Conservatives and a continual Tory voter since then, I am for the first time going to be voting for UKIP in May.
Cameron is a let-down, he's not what I consider a 'true- blue' Tory.
I know it's been said that he's showing himself as a liberal leftie just to gain power, by trying to be all things to all people before being a 'conservative' again. However that fact remains, IMO, that he really is a liberal leftie, and therefore, nothing will change under his leadership - apart from a few minor bits here and there. After all he can't do too much anyway as his hands are tied with our membership to that marxist monstrosity across the channel.
I'm praying for a hung Parliament.
2 things will happen (or both together)
a) As Lord Pearson said there may well be another election later in the year, and/or b) so many Tory backbenchers are furious at not getting a majority vote,that there is a leadership election in the Tories, hopefully allowing a true-blue Conservative in:- someone who actually thinks it's a good idea if we make our own laws and govern ourselves.
As things stand at the moment the three main parties are, concerning Europe, all joined at the hip. The only way to initiate some form of change is if there is an upset in May.

Harry said...

Good analysis. My only problem is you use Junius as a source. I would take everything said there with a huge pinch of salt!

Oranjepan said...

'Junius' is a perfectly good representative of his own opinon as far as I've read, though I have some strong doubts about the relevance of the monicker.

Personally I think the desire to retire and watch other people put in place policies you may want is a hilarious fantasy - you don't get anywhere without using your democratic voice.

And I think that is the point about the 'true blue' right wing - they haven't yet got that democracy is about everyone having different opinions and trying to make a case.

So while we're on about Europe, let me state the simple argument that pooled sovereignty and a process of continuous integration is the only way to prevent conflict between members - it was the case before every nation unified, and was the case before the nations began to unify too.

The fact is that if you cannot convince your neighbour through open debate then you must reform your argument or make concessions, so if Ukip sees resigning membership of the EU as a point of principle then it really doesn't have a political future.

I'm happy to concede that the EU institutions need plenty of reform, but disengagement is the sure road to disaster.

And I, personally, do not want to return to a situation where war is continously breaking out and masses of blood is being split on the the basis of the unreliable opinions and oratorial power of an individual (um, Iraq anyone???).