British Prime Minister David Cameron is said to be urgently scrambling to the right on issues such as immigration and the European Union in a desperate, last minute bid to keep UKIP from stealing Conservative Party votes en masse at the general election next year.
Following the Tory defeat in Clacton this week, and the poor performance by his party in Heywood and Middleton, Mr Cameron is believed to be working on a major new immigration plan to unveil to voters over the next few weeks.
But whether or not the strategy will work is a different story. After almost five years in government, voters may see through the tactic as an electoral strategy, rather than one that Mr Cameron believes in and has implemented over his entire term in office.
The fact that Mr Farage and the UK Independence Party have managed to prompt the Conservative Party back to the right is no small feat, but it also presents a problem should voters endorse Mr Cameron’s plans.
Already there have been major new calls from Conservative backbenchers for Tory-UKIP pacts. Jacob Rees-Mogg MP implored some form of deal, arguing: “We should think about what [the by-election results this week mean] in terms of the UKIP-Conservative relationship, because the conservative family could win a majority on that basis… otherwise, the only thing we manage is mutually assured destruction”.
But Breitbart London’s sources say that Mr Farage and the UKIP hierarchy are sceptical of a Tory deal, fearing that they cannot trust Mr Cameron’s party, and that any form of pact would set them back electorally, and in public relations terms with the public. Oft-cited is the Liberal Democrat collapse since their deal with the Conservative Party.
Meanwhile, Tory liberals are bemoaning a shift to the right, with former Tory MP Matthew Parris – who is believe to have helped the UKIP cause in Clacton by his derogatory comments about the area – claiming that it is the voters that are wrong, not the politicians.
He wrote in the Times: “Today’s parliaments are the most inclusive, diverse, unpretentious, least corrupt, most streetwise, hardest-working assemblies that Britain has ever elected… they do know how the other half lives”.
Unfortunately for Mr Parris, it may not be diversity and a “streetwise” manner that people are looking for. Instead, the votes for UKIP seem to reflect a resurgent nationalism in Britain, and a reflection that in fact, a “diverse” parliament reflects the very problem the rest of the country has with London and specifically Westminster.