Seems to be quite a bit of discussion around concerning the possibilities of some sort of pact between Conservatives and UKIP to contest the 2015 General Election. Seems that UKIP leader, Nigel Farage went along to Manchester today and fell into discussing the idea. My understanding is that he's against anything at national level, but open to agreements at local level. Must admit I've no idea how such arrangements would work out in practice. Anyway, The Conservative leadership has absolutely ruled it out. But its provided a bit of entertainment for the twitteratti - especially when he tangled with the redoubtable Bill Cash at a 'fringe' meeting. Would quite like to have seen that.
But enough of Manchester. What about Montgomeryshire. I've always rather liked the UKIP people in my own area, especially when one of my oldest friends, David Rowlands was carrying the banner for them. I felt very sad when David died earlier this year. We had worked closely together as Montgomeryshire District Cllrs. and shared many interests. And their candidate in the Assembly elections, Christine Williams seemed a capable candidate. I've always found a cup of coffee at the UKIP stand at local summer shows to be a convivial experience. But I could never contemplate any sort of joint ticket at election time - never ever.
But lets look at policy. This is where I find it difficult to find clearly defined differences between me and Montgomeryshire UKIP. I suppose the first issue is the EU. We both agree there should be a referendum on continued UK membership. I'm not sure it can now be avoided anyway. Would not surprise me if all parties sign up to it by 2015. Perhaps I will differ from UKIP on how we will approach that referendum in 2017. Its just too early to know yet. Most Ukippers will be for 'out' whatever, while I want to see what changes the Prime Minister can win before committing myself. But without a Conservative-led Govt, there wouldn't be a referendum at all.
UKIP are as sound as the Coalition parties on the economy. We agree on the need for control of immigration - though the tone and language may differ. UKIP shares my implacable opposition to the Mid Wales Connection Project which will cover Montgomeryshire with pylons and turbines. And UKIP are now accepting that the National Assembly is here to stay, and we should focus on making it work in the interests of Wales. I even tried making a speech with a pint of real ale in my hand a few weeks back, which went quite well.
Where I have a bit of a problem is in tone of some of UKIP rhetoric, though it seems to be changing rapidly. MEP, Geoffrey Bloom was recently kicked out of the party for unacceptable comments. Thats growing up a bit. What I will say is that in my conversations with Montgomeryshire Ukippers, there is not a problem, even where we don't see exactly eye to eye on things. I suppose it is a bit of an irony that if Montgomeryshire UKIP does very well in 2015, it may gift victory to a party much less in agreement with them, and if national UKIP does very well, it may gift the Government of Britain to the Labour Party. Politics is an odd business.