Vote Farage, get Miliband might not have quite as much resonance with voters as the Tories would like. But it is certainly effective with donors. If Ukip is seen as Ed Miliband’s passport to Number 10, it will be far harder for it to raise the money it needs to fight a successful general election campaign.
So when Nigel Farage spoke to the Midlands Industrial Council—a group of right-wing business people who have in the past donated substantial sums to the Tories—after the European Elections, most of the questions were about how to avoid a split on the right letting Labour back into government. As I report in the Mail on Sunday, Farage’s response was that there was ‘No prospect of a deal as both Cameron and Osborne view us in Ukip as members of the lower orders, not proper people.’ But he then went on to outline a ‘potentially intelligent approach’ to cooperation between the Tories and Ukip.
Farage emphasised that Ukip does better in working class seats and the Tories in middle and upper class one. Farage said that if he was Tory leader, this is what he do
‘It’s very easy, you offer Ukip 20 or 30 seats where the Conservatives will stand down, if you leave us alone in the rest of the country.’
By putting himself in Cameron’s shoes, Farage had cleverly not committed himself to accepting anything. But those present tell me that the implication was that Farage himself would be amenable to such a deal.
Having spoken to those who know Farage’s thinking on the matter, I understand that he would feel obliged to put any potential pact to a ballot of the Ukip membership.
Now, any deal remains highly unlikely because Cameron is adamant that the electoral and political negatives of allying with Ukip far outweigh the positives. But it seems that at the Ukip end, the door is not shut on some kind of electoral arrangement.