Cameron’s Coming Headache

Nigel Farage.
Image via Wikipedia

While we political geeks interested observers were watching Woolas, Cameron’s vanity staff, and the other comings and goings of the last week, another headache – and potentially a big one – for the Prime Minister reared it’s head and created barely a flicker of attention. Team Cameron no doubt noticed it but chose not to draw attention to it.

What? No! Of course I’m not talking about the final of Masterchef Professional. Clearly, you have an odd idea of what is politically important. I talk of the lurking danger for the Tories that is the United Kingdom Independence Party, better known as UKIP, or “those idiots over there” that all the other activists point and laugh at. I realise you’re now thinking Rob’s losing the plot a bit. But I’m not. Seriously. I’m really not!

Cameron’s inner circle have always had a wary eye on UKIP because they know that if UKIP pick up popular support and begin to gain momentum, then it will affect the Tories more than anyone else. Don’t get me wrong, Dear Reader, I don’t believe UKIP are about to steal a load of Parliamentary seats. But what they are capable of doing is taking just enough votes to split the naturally-Tory vote and to stop Cameron winning seats they normally would. It would only take a small percentage to choose UKIP to cost the Conservatives a seat to Labour or the Lib Dems.

Of course, not every UKIP voter would have voted Tory, but when you look at UKIP’s manifesto you’d have to say it’d be a safe bet that many of them would be. UKIP polled ahead of the Tories in 21 seats in May, and remember UKIP was led by a man, in Lord Pearson, who admits to not being cut out for the job. Despite poor leadership and bad presentation, UKIP still increased it’s share of the vote by 50% on the previous general election with 900,000+ votes.

And now, Dear Reader, we come to the aforementioned major headache for Cameron. Nigel Farage is back as the leader of UKIP. And Farage knows how to lead a campaign and how to present himself and his party to the media and the electorate.

Farage, whatever you think of his politics and his policy, is a very clever reader of the public mood and is aiming to direct the anti-political establishment feeling created in the wake of the expenses scandal, and turn it  into votes for UKIP. Just this last week he’s been telling anyone who’ll listen that UKIP is the British Tea Party to pick up the popular support for such a movement in the right-of-centre.

At the next general election, David Cameron wants desperately to win an overall majority. He wants to govern on his own terms, but it looks highly unlikely that he will increase his majority after failing to make any impact in parts of the country despite pumping millions of pounds into them. That means that every seat Dave already holds is vital and he can’t afford to allow UKIP to make inroads into any of them.

And now that Cameron’s Eurosceptic days are well behind him, he can expect Farage to increase his allegations of Cameron letting down the british people in Europe. UKIP under Farage will spend every working day goading Tories about coalition policy on Europe, which some Tory backbenchers are already grumbling about. Those backbenchers will be forced by UKIP into demonstrating their Eurosceptic credentials by putting pressure on Cameron and the frontbench on any European issue in Parliament.

I guarantee we’ll be seeing more difficult questions being asked of Cameron, and Cameron is going to find it difficult to fend off attacks from UKIP and his own party’s right-wing backbenches. His juggling to keep the coalition together mean the Prime Minister can’t suddenly go back to his Eurosceptic stance and he has nowhere left to go.

In fact, between now and 2015,  Cameron is going to find it increasingly difficult to please his pro-Europe coalition partners and fight off the Eurosceptic attacks that will come his way at the same time. Cameron has trapped himself and Farage won’t let that opportunity pass him by.

That is Cameron’s coming headache and it’s a big one.

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