David Cameron has written to all Tory members today. In an otherwise unremarkable two page letter he devotes one paragraph to UKIP (click to enlarge):
It’s all true, of course, but it’s unlikely to stop UKIP doing well on 4th June. UKIP may even beat Labour. UKIP will prosper because of anger at the mainstream parties, because of their hardline stance on immigration and because the public are increasingly Eurosceptic.
An ICM poll for The TaxPayers’ Alliance and Global Vision – published overnight – finds strong support for Britain asserting greater independence from Brussels. Key findings include:
- 69% want the British Government to start breaking EU rules. 78% of Conservative voters support EU rule-breaking.
- By 57% to 37% Britons favour unilateral repatriation of powers if the EU refused to give us permission to do so.
- 75% of people believe that any decision to give more powers to the EU must always be put to a referendum, while only 23% believe such decisions should be taken by MPs.
- Membership of the Euro (which would have greatly handicapped our economic recovery) is rejected by 75% to 23%. Even 58% of Liberal Democrats oppose membership.
- 67% agree that the economic crisis demonstrates the need for Britain to take back control of trade and economic policies.
All Eurosceptics should rejoice that The TaxPayers’ Alliance – as successful as MigrationWatch in changing public opinion – have turned their considerable skills to the European issue. Their determination to connect the issue of the EU with people’s wealth and policy on immigration is particularly important. Too many of the Eurosceptic groups have been too abstract in their campaigning.
My guess is that, in the long-term, the campaigning of the TPA will do more to move the nation’s political establishment to a Eurosceptic position than UKIP. UKIP’s 2004 victory produced no big changes. Progress in 2009 will (rightly or wrongly) be dismissed as mainly a protest vote. If change is going to happen it will happen at Westminster and I bet any Ukipper £100 that there’ll not be one MP elected under UKIP purple at the next General Election. If UKIP has any effect it will be to negatively deprive a few Tory MPs of victory and keep a Europhile LibDem or Labourite in the Commons.
My own belief is that Britain would be better off outside of the EU. I believe in a strong British-EU trading relationship but Britain should govern itself. I’ve applied to join the Better Off Out group and will be arguing for greater and greater independence for Britain but from within the Conservative Party… because change comes from within.