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The media are taking Ukip more and more seriously – how will the Tory leadership respond?

By Peter Hoskin
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FarageOnce upon a time, only a small gaggle of commentators – including the Express’s Patrick O’Flynn – gave Ukip much thought. That, of course, has changed over recent months, and it seems to have developed even further during the past week. On Friday, my old boss Fraser Nelson devoted his Telegraph column to Nigel Farage and how he’s “extending his message beyond Brussels-bashing”. And today the Sun on Sunday contains an editorial about the same man that is noteworthy in its effusiveness.

“Nigel Farage talks nothing but common sense,” starts the Sun’s leader, before continuing, “It’s hard to argue when he trashes David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, three supposed ‘leaders’ who spend their days being buffeted around by feedback from focus groups.” But, however that sounds, the piece doesn’t end up as a full endorsement of Ukip. It concludes by suggesting that, to win the next election, Mr Cameron should work up a pact with Mr Farage: “Because unless those two can strike a deal, Ed Miliband could wake up in Downing Street on May 8, 2015.”

This editorial is another reminder that the Tory leadership don’t just face competition from Ukip in the polls, but also in print. The way things are looking at the moment, I’d be surprised if Mr Farage’s party weren’t endorsed by at least one national at the next general election.

But it’s also a sign of things that will come much sooner. With next month’s local elections poised as they are – indeed, a poll in today’s Sun has it that the Tories will lose 380 councillors, with three-quarters of deserters going to Ukip – the backbench pressure for a pact with Ukip is likely to grow. Either that, or there will be demands for policies to undermine Ukip’s appeal. A new paper from Conservative Way Forward, although it’s not directly such a demand, proposes a tougher approach towards immigration, which is one of the prime concerns of Ukip supporters.    

In which case, it’s worth reading another Ukip-related article in today’s papers. It’s by Nick Cohen, who reckons that Mr Cameron won’t resist the pressure – and I fear that he may be proved right. We at ConHome have tended towards a sceptical view of any pact with Ukip, and I personally believe that another coalition with the Lib Dems is the party’s best hope of power after the next election. But it’s not just a choice between two potential bedfellows for 2015, but about what sort of Conservative Party will win elections beyond that.


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