Nigel Farage’s comments confirming UKIP would “absolutely” support a Labour government on a confidence and supply basis – in return for an EU referendum – were seized on by the party’s opponents yesterday. Certainly it was a strategic error for the UKIP leader to give the Tories an open goal to trot out their favourite “vote UKIP, get Labour” attack line. Farage is obviously as candid a politician as you get, and perhaps it was him being characteristically blasé, but why are UKIP seemingly so open to the idea of a Labour win?
UKIP insist they see no difference between the Tories and Labour. This isn’t really a very credible line. The polls show voters can clearly see a difference in the leadership capabilities of David Cameron and Ed Miliband. There is also a tangible difference in the political position of the parties, since Miliband is the most left-wing Labour leader in a generation.
When pressed, UKIP sources know any type of deal with Labour is so unlikely it is almost impossible. But, if the party held any sort of balance of power post-2015, look at its options. UKIP could support Cameron and get a referendum in 2017, where the Tories and therefore the entire political establishment would try to keep Britain in the EU. Or UKIP could support Labour, spell the end of Cameron, and join forces with a more eurosceptic Conservative opposition leader who would vote ‘out’. For a party still obsessed with Europe, UKIP would rather Labour formed a government if it indirectly meant a better chance of leaving the EU.