BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom — Considering that Tory conference opened on a UKIP defection from Member of Parliament Mark Reckless, the annual Conservative Party gathering hasn’t actually gone that badly for David Cameron’s party.
The main speeches and policy points are being broadly welcomed by delegates in Birmingham, and the main hall is consistently packed despite fears that the active membership had bottomed out and failed to show.
Speaking to attendees in the bars and events around Birmingham however, a different picture arises. Fear is at fever pitch, and now, before even having jumped ship, UKIP prospective defectors such as Phillip Hollobone and Mark Pritchard are being smeared by party loyalists.
“We’ve never liked the ‘awkward squad’ anyway,” one young Tory tells me. “We are better rid of people like them,” claimed another.
When party activists are briefing media against their own, you know something’s amiss.
As hundreds of young people gathered to hear Party Chairman Grant Shapps speak on Sunday night, it was clear that the Conservative Party is gearing up for a dirty fight against the UKIP threat. “We will destroy them,” said one, echoing the increasingly robust sentiment from the likes of Shapps, and indeed the Prime Minister David Cameron, who have called the defectors “liars”.
London Mayor and parliamentary hopeful Boris Johnson likened UKIPers to people who “present themselves at A&E with barely credible injuries sustained through vacuum cleaner abuse.” Tory politics is at its nastiest in a long time, as the wounded animal begins to lash out.
Rumours abounded this morning that UKIP leader Nigel Farage had arrived in Birmingham and would be speaking at one of the halls in the city close to the conference zone, but the truth was that Mr Farage was in Brussels, performing his job as a Member of the European Parliament. Both UKIP and Tory sources told Breitbart London that they were aware of a number of credible “surprises” that UKIP has in store for the next few days. Conference waits with girded loins.