The Grand Panjandrum of the Conservative Media, James Forsyth, has officially declared UKIP and Nigel Farage dead and buried.
Tory strategists talk of a ‘carrot and stick’ approach to dealing with the threat of Ukip on their right. The carrot is more robust Tory policies on welfare, immigration and human rights. The stick is the prospect of Ed Miliband as Prime Minister.
Not only have those brilliant “strategists” discovered the magic formula for collapsing the UKIP vote, the venerable figure of Bill Cash came forth and crushed Farage at a fringe meeting with one blow
Farage was harangued by Bill Cash for ‘not acting in the national interest’ and for making it less likely that there would be a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union.
According to Forsyth Farage was then barracked by Tory MPs and had to slink away a broken man. Afterwards Forsyth scuttled up to a “cabinet minister” and described the scene with great glee. Said minister was astonished that the UKIP threat had been neutralised in just a few minutes and probably thanked Forsyth from the bottom of his heart.
Really, Mr Forsyth? Other reports of that Farage/Cash incident paint it in a far less one sided light. He didn’t come as a supplicant, seeking Cash’s blessing and reacted forthrightly to his rather patronising put down.
We know that The Spectator and, to a slightly lesser extent their fellow Barclay Brothers employees at the Telegraph have been peddling this line about UKIP for quite a while. But I suspect this position is not at all based on hard facts. It is either a classic example of wishful thinking or the Forsyth is so enclosed in the Westminster bubble he has little, if any, contact with the real world.
The fact is that Cameron and his clique captured the Conservative machine thinking they could win power by being Tony Blair. It was a disastrous miscalculation.
Rather than locking in the Conservative base and – like Ronald Reagan – building out from there, creating a winning coalition around a couple of big, unifying themes, they rushed to what they thought was the middle, attacked some of their existing voters and activists, and created the space for Ukip’s rise.
However much the Tory “strategists” and their media lapdogs like Forsyth try to big up the shifts and twists of their party’s priorities those who already vote UKIP and the millions more who are moving in that direction are doing so because, if they are not Tories, they have lost faith in the political class, and, if they were they simply do not believe anything Cameron says.
The vote UKIP get Miliband scaremongering so loudly pimped by Forsyth and the “strategists” is an empty threat. Many would argue that, beyond the rhetoric, a Miliband regime would be little different from Cameron/Clegg – EU friendly, High Tax, Corporate Crony and Nanny State. But in opposition the Conservative Party, without the perks of power would collapse like a powdery fossil leaving a resurgent UKIP as the only effective alternative to rule by Big Government.
No, Mr Forsyth, UKIP is here to stay.