Thursday, April 06, 2006

The UKIP furore

It would seem that everyone and their dog is taking issue with David Cameron’s remarks with regard to UKIP. I can understand it when such opinions are expressed by our liberal left-wing media; but by Tory MPs? It strikes me that an aggressive stance with regard to UKIP is exactly what is called for given the effect they are having on the Tory vote. Lets be honest, when Mr and Mrs Smith (who in our scenario live in a nice leafy suburb, have a garage, a dog, and 2.4 children (who incidentally went to university and now work in ‘the city’)) who believe in very traditional Tory values, switch to supporting a party, UKIP, which they believe to be representative of those values, surely it is time to act and return them to the fold. How better to do this than vilify UKIP? Through effective negative campaigning, which essentially is what David Cameron’s remarks were, the UKIP brand can be repositioned in the political marketplace. Rather than being seen as a party slightly to the right of the modern Conservative Party they would be viewed as a slightly diluted version of the BNP. What would Mr and Mrs Smith’s neighbours think of the Smith’s party affiliation then?

As Conservatives we should want UKIP to be seen as “fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists”. We need to drive them out of the marketplace and retake that section of our target demographic that they have invaded. Bob Spink may consider UKIP to be “good people” but that is beside the point; I don’t doubt that Labour are ‘good people’ (inasmuch that they are not inherently bad people), but given the opportunity we should attempt to capture some of their consumers by weakening their brand. Politics is a competitive market; we need to start treating it like one.


Gavin Ayling said...

That all sounds rather underhand. What if, instead of stigmatising UKIP for the sake of it, we accept that the vote should be split if people genuinely support that position on Europe?

The Conservative Party membership, I would suggest, is very largely in favour of UKIP's policy of withdrawal. If desertion to UKIP is what it takes to tell the leadership what they think then so be it.

All Cameron has actuall achieved is to further alienate right-wing Tories and to ensure that there will be a UKIP candidate in most constituencies (where before eurosceptic Tories would not have been opposed).

Tory in the Wilderness said...

I prefer to think of it as sensible competitive behaviour, UKIP are a hindrance and cut into our market share; we must therefore take steps to limit/remove their effect.

With regard to the EU withdrawal whilst a large number, perhaps even a majority, of party members (although I am not one of them) may favour withdrawal I do not believe it is as important an issue to the electorate as many Conservatives believe. I do not however dismiss its importance, rather, I suggest that our time would be better spent pushing our views on education, crime etc. I would submit that whilst constitutional issues may be of interest to those who have the time and education to consider such matters, for most people anti-social behaviour, health and education are the issues of greatest importance.

Raw Carrot said...

Gav's right.

Also, your strategy runs the risk of spectacularly backfiring, giving both publicity, sympathy and impetus to UKIP. Plus, such a campaign would only really work BEFORE people made the decision to switch party.

For instance, if you go and buy a BMW and then after you've spent £30k I tell you that you have a really shit car, and the only people who drive them are racist then not only will I have attacked BMW, but also you and the other drivers. I don't think there'd be much chance of you deciding to write off your BMW and buy the car I produce.

Raw Carrot said...

Oh and UKIP, like the BNP, are both more than single-issue parties if you take the time to actually consider them. And, to be honest, between the two "far-right" parties, I have more in common with them than with the fluffy ideas Cameron seems to be "selling" at the moment.

Tory in the Wilderness said...

UKIP are a thorn in the side of the Conservative Party and need to be dealt with. I do not dismiss that they represent views which large number of people identify with, but they also represent an allocation of the Conservative Party’s market share. For that reason I am in favour of, as I said, limiting/removing their effect.

As for Cameron I do take issue with the apparent desire to move the party ever closer to the centre ground; something I believe can only hurt the party in the long-run. That said Cameron clearly understands the importance of image in modern politics. Down to the subtle change of the colour blue he, and the marketing people behind him, are aware that policies and values, in and of themselves, are no longer enough. Your product has to be displayed in the most attractive packaging possible if you are to displace your competitor’s competitive advantage. In sum, Conservative values are key and deserve not to be forsaken in an attempt to ‘center’ the party but that does not mean we cannot change (our approach at least).