November 25, 2014 by Paul Goldsmith
It’s time to dump this “UKIP are right, don’t vote for them” strategy. We are getting near to the day when the Conservatives need to decide exactly who they are as a party. The Rochester and Strood by-election showed that they simply cannot out-UKIP UKIP, and in fact can could have a lot to lose by doing so. There is an extent to which David Cameron might want to say ‘put up or shut up’ to his more Eurosceptic MPs, because whilst he is pandering to their needs, he is possibly losing the chance of having centrist Lib Dem and even some Blairite Labour voters coming over to the Conservatives. I don’t believe David Cameron can win a debate with UKIP on Europe – because the policies he would have to have to win many of those who have gone to UKIP back would be unpalatable to too many others. But where he can win a debate is on just about every other policy area.
Let’s start with the flip-flops. We are helped in this by Mark Reckless, who, on the day he was elected as a UKIP MP, found out how malleable their policies are in the face of public disquiet. Asked last week about what would happen to EU migrants who are already here should Britain leave the EU, Reckless dutifully espoused the stated UKIP policy that there would be a transitional period, like there would be for British emigrants in the EU area. The suggestion that these migrants might be deported led to a massive backlash, and when Reckless looked for backup from UKIP, it wasn’t there – because they seemed to have just changed their policy on the hoof, just like that.
Add to that the interview between Nick Robinson of the BBC and Nigel Farage last week in which Farage was reminded that up until two years ago, he was saying that it would be more efficient to end the NHS as it is known, and instead establish an insurance system that would be run by private companies. Now, he seems to be saying that UKIP would honour the concept of “free at the point of delivery” and also stop any PFI contracts. Could this be, Robinson wonders – because Farage will tailor his, and therefore UKIP’s views, to whatever the public will stomach? The Conservatives need to be chasing them on this.
They should also look at the considerable amount of tax cuts that UKIP are promising. The personal allowance up to £13,500, a 35% tax rate from £43k to £55k then a 40% rate afterwards, the complete abolition of inheritance tax too. UKIP claim they can do this as they are going to reduce wasteful spending on the EU (disregarding benefits we get), cut back on overseas aid, scrapping HS2 and disbanding the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as well as the Department for Energy and Climate Change. The latter commitment – under the heading of “reducing debts we leave to our grandchildren”, and including a scrapping of green subsidies – takes a solely monetary view on debts – seeing as it rejects the existence of global warming and anything the UK should be doing about it.
These are only a few – you can look at more by clicking here. I am not going to do the Conservatives job for them. All I can say is that if, as seems likely, Nigel Farage could be in the position to decide who forms our next government, we need to ensure that he and his party are fully tested and heard on ALL their policies. Because we could be subject to those policies. Farage has a comfort zone – around immigration and Europe. He most certainly does not have a comfort zone around policy areas that involve, you know, serious decisions on things like, you know, running a country.
So my advice to David Cameron is simply to welcome Nigel Farage and UKIP onto his comfort zone. Which is running a country.