Shaking hands with yourself….
‘The Center Ground’ is one of those great political mythical beasts that many talk about but few have been able to actually describe in much detail – in that regard it is about on a par with the Loch Ness Monster. However, like most myths, it is based on a fundamental truth, in this case the truth that to win political power in a Westminster election you need to do so by building strong voter coalitions – neither main political party, let alone those at the fringes, have a strong enough core constituency to propel them to power.
In that regard, an electoral pact between the Conservative Party and UKIP, is one of the most nonsensical political propositions there is; especially for the blue team. In essence, the Conservative Party would be making an electoral pact with itself because UKIP core support is ex-Conservative core support. Of course, there are others, the protest vote and a not insubstantial number of disaffected ex-Labourites but nowhere near enough, mathematically speaking, to compensate for the hardening of disaffected Lib Dems behind the red team.
The fact that it is even on the political agenda says alot more about the creeping desperation of the Conservative Party to do anything to remain in power than anything else. Most Conservative activists support such a move because they secretly wish they were in UKIP – this way they get to retain the chance of governing while espousing views that they find entirely wholesome and more in line with their own. More profoundly though and more worryingly for those gathering in Manchester it signifies the complete inability of the Conservative leadership to do what Margaret Thatcher did so well – build the kind of voter coalitions that keep the Party in power and over the magic 40% mark.
David Cameron failed to do this in 2010 when the odds were stacked heavily in his favour so nothing shows he could do it in 2015 where the climate is less hospitable. ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ may have been an awful lot of fluff and bunkum but it was at least outward looking, it looked to attract broader support, but now even that is gone, replaced by the kind of blue in tooth and claw politics that the grassroots love but is hardly the stuff of winning elections. Policy wise, the governing Party is becoming insular and inward looking and it is making the opposition look like a policy colossus – which says it all really. An electoral pact with UKIP is not the electoral panacea that the Conservative Party needs, a change of leadership is, and it is only a matter of time before more and more Conservatives realise that.