Seems that our Prime Minister is still not over-enamoured with Ukip activists/supporters. On Marr today he said some of them were 'pretty odd', which is being interpreted as 'insulting'. Since I think being 'pretty odd' is an essential requirement of anyone taking an active interest in politics, I do not consider this to be at all insulting. I've certainly been called a lot worse, without feeling at all offended. And I think David Cameron has called Ukip supporters something like 'fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists' in the past, so the relationship is clearly 'warming'.
The most ludicrous aspect of stories currently running about Ukip is the extrapolation of existing polling figures into a General Election result. National newspapers are even predicting the current Conservative MPs who will be ousted as a result of Ukip votes. My good colleagues, Guto Bebb and Stephen Crabb are fingered here. If this sort of nonsense was for real, Electoral Calculus has me as the only safe Tory bet in Wales in 2015. Well, I suppose they have to fill their columns with something. Probably because politicians are generally a bit odd, some MPs are thrashing around like headless chickens, searching for an 'answer' to the 'Ukip problem'. Here's my suggestion.
The Government (and the Conservative Party) should focus on what is right for the UK, and smile benignly on our Ukip friends. Thank them for their contribution to political discourse, and for floating interesting ideas. Then buy coffees all round and get back to work. We know that the deficit has to be significantly reduced by 2015. We know that immigration numbers have to be significantly reduced as well. And we know that welfare spending has to be brought under control by, and that we must negotiate a different relationship with the EU by 2015. Plus a few other things as well. We need to do these things because they are right -and nothing whatsoever to do with Ukip. Normally, when UK Governments are embarked on difficult programmes, opinion polls tend to record big swings to the 'the third party', in past times, the Liberal Democrats. But the Lib Dems are now in Gov't so voters are backing Ukip to show displeasure. Lot better than the BNP. The increase in Ukip support is only in small part to do with 'policy'.
Most Ukippers I know are sensible patriotic people who detest bureaucracy, hate public sector waste, and are generally good and friendly folk. I also always find their instinct generally quite 'Conservative'. Can't recall engaging a Ukipper in conversation that I didn't like. Of course I don't agree with Ukip on everything, but we as Coalition partners don't agree on everything either. In fact I don't agree with my own party on everything. I just think we should address Ukip with Rees-Moggian politeness and style, and let them know how much we love them, and how much we would like them back in the fold. I reckon that in 2015, most of them will be.