The most common objection to a Tory-Ukip pact is that neither David Cameron nor Nigel Farage will touch it. So why waste time discussing it?
But a pact doesn’t need to be endorsed by the leaders of either party to work. What I have in mind is something bottom-up rather than top-down. A unite-the-right website set up by members of both parties that tells people who they should vote for in their constituency to keep out Labour and the Lib Dems.
Take Eastleigh, for instance, a seat currently held by the Lib Dems. Ukip came second at the by-election last year, so the advice would be to vote for Diane James in Eastleigh because she’s the candidate best placed to defeat the incumbent.
Sceptics will say this example is misleading. In the majority of constituencies, the advice will be to vote Conservative, either because there’s a sitting Tory MP or because the Conservatives came second in that seat in 2010. Why should Ukip supporters enter into any sort of tactical voting alliance with Conservatives when the impact will be so one-sided?
The first thing to say is that the arrangement won’t be as asymmetrical as some Ukip voters think. The website won’t just base its recommendations of who to vote for in 2015 on the 2010 election result. It will take a number of other factors into account, such as the most recent local elections, the European election in 2014 and the latest opinion poll data.
Who will decide which candidate the website endorses? A committee made up of equal numbers from each party. Yes, there will be arguments, but in most cases it will be pretty clear which candidate is best placed to win the seat. Where the committee can’t agree, the seat will just be declared ‘too close to call’.
But even if we do take all these other factors into account, Tory candidates will still outnumber Ukip candidates by a ratio of at least two-to-one. A pact along these lines might increase the chances of a few Ukip candidates getting into Parliament, but its main effect will be to increase the likelihood of a majority Conservative government. Why should Ukip supporters countenance such an arrangement when most of them regard David Cameron as no better than the other two party leaders?
The short answer is that a majority Conservative government is the only way you’ll get an in-out EU referendum in the next Parliament. This could be our last chance in a generation — possibly ever — to extract ourselves from the European superstate. Is the prospect of David Cameron staying on as Prime Minister really so awful that you’re willing to throw that chance away? I know Cameron gave a ‘cast-iron guarantee’ once before, but this time round he’s made a promise he can’t break without destroying his own party.
There’s a longer answer, too, which has to do with all the other things we agree about. Supporters of both parties believe in low taxes, controlled immigration, freedom of speech, school choice, a welfare cap… the list goes on. The LibLabCon rhetoric belies the fact that we’re all, essentially, members of the same family. We’re all conservatives with a small ‘c’, even those Ukip supporters who voted Labour in the past. Whatever your feelings about the present leader of the Conservative party, surely a Cameron-led government, committed to an in-out referendum, would be preferable to a Miliband-led government? And make no mistake — that’s what we’ll get if we can’t put our differences aside and unite the right.
I’m not asking supporters of either party to betray their principles. Rather, I’m inviting them to ignore their personal feelings and consider the national interest. Think about what Britain would look like after five years of Ed Miliband. The economy in the toilet, immigration out of control and the last remnants of national sovereignty transferred to Brussels. The Great Britain you know and love would be gone, replaced by a politically correct dystopia in which no dissent from left-wing groupthink is tolerated. Will the last person to leave the country please turn out the Ecozone energy-saving Biobulb?
If that vision of the future doesn’t appeal to you, join me in trying to heal the rift among conservatives. Help me set up a tactical voting website. Become a member of the joint Conservative-Ukip committee. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s unite the right.