Should Cameron Set His Europe Policy to Woo UKIP Voters?

John Rentoul

farage Nigel 300x168 Should Cameron Set His Europe Policy to Woo UKIP Voters?Yes the answer is no.

I have written about David Cameron’s successful Brussels summit for The Independent on Sunday, pointing out that his party’s Euroscepticism ought to be a winner with the British voters, were it not for his party’s tendency to squabble over which kind of Euroscepticism is the correct one.

One argument for which I did not have space, however, was the long-running one about the need for the Conservative Party to guard its right flank against the threat from UKIP, or Ukip as I am told our house style has it.

It is nonsense. Given the non-availability of the Liberal Democrats for this purpose, UKIP has become a main repository of the sod-the-lot protest vote. Although UKIP voters tend to be quite right wing (although not necessarily racist, as Rotherham social services has now discovered), they are not particularly motivated by policies on Europe and they are not particularly transferable to the Conservatives.

This last point was illustrated by our ComRes poll last weekend (page 23), which showed that only 18 per cent of UKIP voters would “seriously consider” voting Conservative. (The other options were BNP 12 per cent, Labour 7 per cent, Green 7 per cent, Lib Dem 6 per cent, Nationalists 2 per cent, and “none of these” 53 per cent.)

True, 26 per cent of Tory voters would think of voting for UKIP, but when it comes to a general election they might realise that a vote for a party other than the Conservatives risks putting Ed Miliband in No 10.

Generally, Cameron will lose votes to UKIP, Lib Dems, Labour, Greens and non-voting if he is not doing well, and will gain votes from the same sources if he is successful. And the votes that matter most are the ones that transfer between Conservatives and Labour.

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  • creggancowboy

    But Giovanni you ARE a Tory!

  • Junius

    The difference between the Lib Dems and Ukip is that the former were far more successful in farming the sod-the-lot vote. They won some spectacular byelections, overturning majorities of tens of thousands in normally safe Tory seats. Who remembers the party that comes second or third in a by-election, however creditably it performs?

    Ukip’s problem is being a one-issue party, especially as the issue in question is not considered by voters to be among the most important facing Britain. The Ipsos Mori Issues Index, updated monthly, shows that, unprompted, only one voter in 20 mentions Europe. Even when asked by pollsters the EU equivalent of ‘Would you like a pony?’, only 56pc presently say they want to leave, which is a world apart from the 75pc who wanted out a year or so ago.

    Ed Miliband has had a jolly good week. First, he nailed Labour’s colours to the EU mast in that speech to the CBI, effectively shutting up the handful of Eurosceptics in Labour’s Parliamentary ranks – this side of a general election, anyhow. Today he was quick to seize the moral high ground in insisting that being a member of UKIP should not be a bar to adopting or fostering children, and calling for Labour-controlled Rotherham council to urgently investigate the case, when the temptation must have been to soft-pedal. He has come on a bundle, no question.

  • greggf

    “Should Cameron Set His Europe Policy to Woo UKIP Voters?”

    That depends on which election he has in mind.
    For the European elections, which come before the GE and which could be interpreted by the voter as a plebiscite on the EU, perhaps he should.
    One thing seems sure and that is Farage’s handling of the events in Rotherham will be interesting and instructive.

  • Matt Tysoe

    1) where on earth did you get that 75% from? 2) when it comes to issues directly involved with the EU – people are outspoken all the time.

  • John

    Go read UKIP manifesto, calling UKIP a single issue party is ignorant.

  • Junius

    ‘For the European elections, which come before the GE and which could be interpreted by the voter as a plebiscite on the EU…’

    They could, greggf, but could equally well be seen as providing another opportunity for a sod-the-lot protest. There is usually a turnout of around 30pc and the party in government in Westminster loses heavily, as Labour did in 2009. In 2014, the Tories will almost certainly lose heavily and Labour will be the beneficiaries. UKIP will probably come second, as they did in 2009.

    I see backbencher Mark Pritchard is to open another schism in the Tory Parliamentary ranks by arguing in the Sunday Telegraph for a referendum on In/Out of the EU. Despite Ed Miliband’s speech to the CBI this week in which he unequivocally asserted that ‘The best place for Britain is to be at the table, seeking to shape the economic direction of Europe’, Mr Pritchard believes – without giving a single reason to support his opinion – that it is likely the Labour Party will give their own commitment to a referendum.

    I posted earlier that Ed Miliband had enjoyed a jolly good week: Mr Pritchard has obligingly set the seal on it.

  • greggf

    Junius – the Tories under David Cameron are never going to allow an In/Out referendum, their policy is the same as the Heath/Wilson one which led to the referendum in 1975 to “confirm”. William Hague said as much to Andrew Marr this morning.
    Thus a good victory for UKIP in 2014 is the only chance to unseat this policy, and possibly Mr Cameron, although a low turnout may as you say be interpreted as a protest vote rather than a decision, which would be a pity.
    Ed Miliband did have a good CBI presence, but I posted elsewhere that he, and the Tories, are mistaken if they think they can shape the direction of the EU. The core EU is being and will be decided necessarily by the Eurozone of which we are not part……unless Mr Miliband has plans to change that!

  • Pingback: Opinion Polls: Heading Cameron’s Way, Slowly | John Rentoul | Independent Eagle Eye Blogs

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