There is, though, a more fundamental point about UKIP that the Tories disregard at their peril. It is no longer a single-issue party, campaigning for withdrawal from Europe. It also believes in low taxes, a smaller state, immigration controls, grammar schools and an English parliament. As such, it is very attractive to conservative-minded people. Worse for Mr Cameron, its new leader, Nigel Farage, is highly articulate, plain-spoken, experienced (he has been an MEP for eight years), attracting much media attention and highly politically motivated. As they do with the editor of the Mail, the Tories can shrug UKIP off, but they would be making another big mistake.
In a supremely smug article on this subject last Friday, the weekly bible of the bien-pensant class, the Economist, warned Mr Cameron about UKIP, saying that "to bend even slightly in its direction, however, would guarantee not only defeat, but ridicule". Really? I would concede that for the Tories to announce withdrawal from the EU would be a little breathtaking. But what about the rest that UKIP stands for? Would a Tory shift towards grammar schools, lower taxes, a smaller state, controlled immigration and democratic equality for England really have the party's opponents howling with hysterical laughter, and the voters stampeding for Gordon Brown? Somehow, I doubt it.
The BBC wouldn't like it, and neither would Miss Toynbee, nor the Economist (whose long and unembarrassed devotion to the European Exchange Rate Mechanism I still, after all these years, recall with great fondness). But will these people really swing the next election? If Francis, Ollie and Steve tell Dave they will when they next indoctrinate him, he would be well advised to ask them, quite firmly, whether they might perhaps be better employed elsewhere.
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