During the Conservative Party conference at the beginning of October, a popular topic on BBC’s Sunday (and Daily) Politics was the possibility of joint Tory-UKIP candidates.
Grant Shapps, interviewed on one of the programmes, said that the Conservative Party would not recognise such candidates.
Fair enough. But there is an alternative.
Windsor demonstrates how a friendly approach works on the part of UKIP towards Conservatives. It is quite different to what BBC pundits envisaged.
On October 15, TrendingCentral.com featured a post on the subject:
UKIP’s party leader in Windsor, Cllr Tom Bursnall, revealed this week that UKIP candidates will not be standing against a number of Conservative councillors which the local party deems “friends” and “like-minded on many issues.”
This is because (emphases mine):
Liberal Democrat candidate, Cllr Simon Werner, beat Conservative candidate Catherine Hollingsworth by just eight votes [in a 2012 by-election] – and therefore it is clear to see how UKIP standing no candidates in certain seats will be crucial for Conservatives to win, and then perhaps form a coalition with UKIP at council level.
Ben Harris-Quinney, Director of Conservative Grassroots told TrendingCentral.com, “This is the sort of maturity we need in the conservative movement and unfortunately it is no surprise that it is coming from the grassroots rather than from the party leadership. However, it is likely to be the beginning of a much greater trend as candidates realise the similarities of political viewpoint within the conservative movement outweigh party divides.”
Mark Wallace mentioned the Windsor example in his article for Conservative Home, agreeing that this is a viable way forward in areas with a strong UKIP presence.
In the Royal Borough, the objective of both UKIP and Tories is to keep out Labour and Liberal Democrats.
Wallace makes it clear that this is UKIP’s initiative. There is no tacit agreement between the two parties:
It’s important to note that this is not a UKIP-Conservative pact in Windsor. UKIP have acted unilaterally in standing aside, and I’m told no deal has ever been discussed by local Conservatives, nor would one be offered. It’s to the UKIP branch’s credit that they’ve realised the harmful consequences of standing in these seats, and have stepped back from the brink.
Wallace says that Nigel Farage — as well as a number of UKIP supporters, it seems — refuses to believe that his party acts as a spoiler benefiting the two main left-wing parties:
In fact, he got memorably shirty about it when the danger was brought up by Bill Cash at a fringe meeting in a Manchester.
Yet, locally, UKIP members in Windsor saw a microcosm in 2012 of a possible national result in 2015:
The numbers Lord Ashcroft and others have revealed are blunt in their conclusion – UKIP pose a real risk of preventing the UK [from] hav[ing] the opportunity to leave the EU, by letting Labour and Lib Dem candidates in in place of eurosceptic Conservatives. UKIP Windsor, and their Leader Cllr Tom Bursnall, have evidently realised that and are acting in the best interests of the people – the question now is, will Farage accept the reality of the situation as well?
Even if Farage disagrees, at least his men and women in Windsor are acting wisely. One can only hope other parts of the UK show the same common sense.