January 16, 2007

UKIP gives Mr Cameron his Clause 4 at last

Posted by Watlington

If there was one thing to gladden the hearts of Tory modernisers this week, it was the defection to UKIP by two relatively unknown Eurosceptic Peers and an obscure economist. Without even trying, the Cameroons now have their 'Clause 4' moment. For years, many of the modernisers have suggested that the Tories needed their version of 'Clause 4' (one of the first acts of Blair in opposition was to abolish this outdated clause which called for the nationalisation of the means of production). Every defection to UKIP, the Cameroons argue, just shows how far the party has changed for the better. Let UKIP be the home of the blazered Tony Marlows et al, whilst the modern Conservative Party is progressive, forward looking and in touch with the aspirations of Britain......

The UKIPers also provide Conservatives with another advantage. During the run up to the local elections, Conservatives will be ruthlessly targeting Lib Dem councillors. Up to half of all Liberal Democrat councillors are up for election and the view is that if Conservatives can cut the number of Lib Dem councillors significantly, they will have a chance of decimating Lib Dem infrastructure on the ground.

In order to win over Lib Dem voters, Conservatives need to be seen to have moved to the centre. Every UKIP claim that the Conservatives are no longer the party of the right, plays into the hands of this strategy beautifully.

Of course, there is a danger to all this - that the Conservatives may lose substantial numbers of their own core vote. Hence Cameron's article in the Telegraph yesterday stating that he was the heir to Thatcher, not Blair (alongside a similar story in The Sun).

Nevertheless, the forthcoming local elections will not be about UKIP. They will represent a major assault on Lib Dem territory by the Conservatives. 'Vote Blue Go Green' rather than 'better off out' will be the Tory rallying cry over the next few months.

To read more by Watlington, see Watlington.


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The problem with the argument that voting for UKIP will help Labout get in is this - it supposes that the Tories are better on Europe than Labour. To my mind there is absolutely no evidence that the Tories will be more robust on Europe. Tories in the past have been willing to talk tough on Europe and then agree to further integration. Now they have even given up on talking tough.

Posted by: David at January 17, 2007 11:40 AM
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