Nearly a third of Conservative Party members want a pact with UKIP, according to a survey for the ConservativeHome website. This is the third month in a row where support for a pact has hovered around the 30 percent mark, and suggests that a significant part of the Conservative Party sees UKIP as a formidable force, and even one they agree with.
Although the percentage of those against a pact has risen from 58 percent two months ago to 64 percent this month, this is largely due to a decline in the percentage answering “don’t know”, meaning that a third of party activists have remained firm in their support for a pact despite sustained media attacks on UKIP over the past few weeks.
Almost 800 party members responded to the survey, with the results tested against a control panel supplied by polling firm YouGov.
The idea of a pact between the Conservative Party and UKIP has gained traction in recent years as the anti-EU party’s popularity has grown, largely at the expense of Conservative support.
An initiative by journalist Toby Young and Breitbart London Managing Editor Raheem Kassam called for a “Country before Party” pact between individual local Conservative and UKIP associations where one party stands down a candidate where the other has a better chance of winning.
Not all Conservatives are keen however. In May last year, Conservative Party co-chairman Lord Feldman denied describing party activists as “mad, swivel-eyed loons” for forcing MPs to oppose same-sex marriage and take a hard line on Europe. Reports of the incident led to a surge in interest in the UK Independence Party among Conservative activists.
Earlier this year, Conservative MP Rob Halfon said that UKIP had “cleansed” the Conservative Party of people with “extreme” views. He said that some UKIP members had views “literally akin to Nazis,” adding: “In many ways UKIP have done us an enormous favour because they’re cleansing people from the Tory party that had these kinds of views, which is great because I don’t want people who have those kinds of views in my party. So good luck to them, really.“
Halfon is understood to have cozied up to UKIP leader Nigel Farage on campaigning issues, only to make nasty comments about the party later on. Farage said that Halfon’s comments were “hysterical slurs” and said they were the result of “growing Tory terror” over UKIP’s rising popularity.