James Forsyth James Forsyth

A pact wouldn’t solve the Tories’ UKIP problem

UKIP has seen a significant bump in support in the latest set of polls: it is up five points with Populus this morning. All of which makes Lord Ashcroft’s examination of why people are attracted to UKIP particularly timely.

The Ashcroft polling confirms that the UKIP vote is only partly about Europe. It also reflects a wider anger with a political class that appears aloof from peoples’ concerns. Among those considering voting UKIP, the most frequently stated reason is to send a message to the big parties on Europe and immigration.

It is also striking that any kind of Tory / UKIP pact seems unpopular.

‘The few voters who had heard the idea of a Conservative-UKIP pact thoroughly disapproved of the proposal. It would demonstrate an attempt by the Tories to “buy” voters without properly addressing their concerns, show the party to be scared and therefore weak, and would deprive the electorate of the chance to exercise their democratic rights.’

As Tory strategists try to work out how to win back these voters, or at least prevent any further bleeding away, one of the strongest cards they have to play is that they want a Tory majority government more than most voters do. But Cameron is also going to have to find a way of acknowledging their concerns about the future of the country without repelling more optimistic voters.

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