‘WE WILL fight every single seat.” A man so keen on British tradition as Nigel Farage should have worn a black cap as he pronounced those words, for he was passing sentence of death on 32 Conservative MPs and an unquantifiable number of other denizens of the slime-green benches by announcing that Ukip would contest every constituency at the 2015 general election.
Last week was the moment when the hapless Tory beasts locked into the wagon bound for the electoral abattoir finally awakened to their plight and began bleating piteously. This sudden awareness marked the end of the second Conservative “revival” so far this year. The first occurred when Dave launched his latest “cast-iron” European referendum pledge and ended when Ukip mauled the Tories in the English local elections. The second was no more than a psychological hype targeted at backbenchers. That flimsy optimism evaporated with the publication of Lord Ashcroft’s mega-poll last weekend, showing that intervention by Ukip would hand the 32 Tory marginal seats with the narrowest majorities over Labour to Ed Miliband.
In those Conservative seats, Ukip’s appeal to disaffected Tory voters has produced a gap between the two main parties of 43 per cent for Labour and 29 per cent for the Conservatives. Ukip support is in double figures. What the poll did not show is how much worse the broader picture is for the Tories. Because Dave allowed Nick Clegg petulantly to block parliamentary boundary reforms, the Conservatives need a 7-point lead over Labour to secure an overall majority of just one seat. So, whatever modest lead Labour may be registering, an additional 7 points should be added to it to calculate the true position. As it is, the poll forecast a further 66 losses for the Tories in less marginal seats.
In that context, the Tories’ “40/40” election strategy – concentrating all their resources on defending their 40 most marginal seats and targeting their opponents’ 40 narrowest majorities – is a doomed enterprise. It is all over for Dave and the modernisers. By 2015 it will be 23 years since the Conservatives won a general election; when they crash and burn then, the fate of the Liberals post-Lloyd George beckons for them. It was all completely avoidable, but the hubris of public-school millionaires – “Turnip Taleban”, “swivel-eyed loons”, reneging on the Lisbon Treaty referendum, continuing mass immigration, homosexual marriage and every other provocation – snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Under Cameron, Conservative membership has shrunk from 253,000 to a claimed 134,000.
Belatedly, the three consensual political parties and the biased mainstream media have wakened up to the threat from Ukip. In Europe, both EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso and German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble ranted against Ukip. The endangered establishment is in a frenzy to destroy Farage and his party, as evidenced by the contrived “scandals” fabricated to disrupt the Ukip conference. Godfrey Bloom, having elicited from the women in his audience the laughing admission that many of them did not clean behind their refrigerators, in reference to a previous remark he had made, observed (to more laughter): “This place is full of sluts.” On a women’s television show with a studio audience such knockabout would have been feeble but uncontroversial; with the BBC and the other Thought Police gunning for Ukip, it was inflated into a synthetic cause célèbre. It was probably people laughing that gave most offence.
Farage should have reacted more coolly: Ukip will be subjected to innumerable such provocations. Its supporters are already largely immune to these tactics. They tell us more about the consensus parties and the media than about Ukip. Apparently those who inhabit the gated community that is the political and media class imagine that voters are so moronic as to conclude that if a Ukip MEP makes a risqué remark, then they should immediately desert the only party that promises redress of grievances and reconcile themselves to EU membership, the climate change scam, unrestricted immigration, taxpayers’ money squandered on foreign aid, destruction of the armed forces, health tourism, leaving shale gas to moulder in the ground, exorbitant taxes, homosexual marriage and politically correct totalitarianism.
The betrayed ex-Tory voters are now irreconcilables: nothing will deflect them from destroying Dave and the modernisers. This disaffection has spread to Scotland. A separate Ashcroft poll found that, in Holyrood voting intentions, Ukip is at a modest, if much improved, 4 per cent in the constituency vote; but in the list vote it is at an England-style level of 11 per cent – ahead of the Conservatives on 10 per cent. It seems Scottish Conservatives have finally lost patience with the Vichy Tories. There is no political antibiotic in the establishment armoury that can prevent the Ukip bug killing off consensual charlatans.