When we last asked Conservative members in our monthly survey whether or not the Party should form a pact with UKIP for the next election, they divided a third for, a third against and a third not knowing (34 per cent, 33 per cent and 33 per cent, to be precise).
The best part of nine month months on, the percentage not knowing has been whittled down to a nugatory five per cent. The proportion wanting a deal is up to 41 per cent – just over two in five Tory activists, as I say. 54 per cent, the majority, are against.
Even so, that over 40 per cent of them want a pact with a Party that has no seats in the Commons at all, and may well not win any in 2015, is remarkable. (35 per cent are either completely or broadly supportive of a second coalition with the Liberal Democrats.)
But is when the poll digs down to what a pact might mean that the results get especially interesting. Only 13 per cent of respondents want joint UKIP-Tory candidates or a full merger between the two parties (six and seven per cent respectively).
A much bigger proportion, 33 per cent, want either a vote-swapping arrangement as championed by Toby Young (17 per cent) or Conservative and UKIP candidates standing down when the other is better placed (16 per cent). Seven per cent want a deal that gives UKIP something – e.g: Cabinet positions – in return for them standing down.
From now on, we will ask the questions monthly. (“Should the Conservative leadership arrange some sort of pact with UKIP ahead of the general election?” “If the Conservatives were to arrange a pact with UKIP, which form would you prefer it to take?”)
Whatever readers’ views of the pact issue, it certainly gets them going. The survey got a whopping response of 2300, the highest reply rate since October 2011. Just over 1050 declared themselves to be Party members. Their responses are checked against those of a control panel supplied by YouGov.