Midlands Tories face perils of waging war on two fronts

Nigel Farage The threat of Nigel Farage's UKIP could see the Tories fighting an election battle on two fronts
"Vote UKIP. Get Labour"

It's not exactly the clarion call with which most Midlands Conservative activists would chose to rally support for their 2015 general election campaign, now just over a year and a half away.

But it certainly conveys the scale of the problem facing them.

Despite UKIP's protestations that they are gaining support from all the main parties, the evidence is mounting that the "UKIP factor" poses the biggest threat to the Conservatives.

Publicly, Lichfield's Michael Fabricant is in a minority of one among Conservative MPs in suggesting a debate about a possible electoral pact with UKIP.

Tory marginal seats

Seats where they are defending majorities under 5,000 and Labour are their main challenger

  • Cannock Chase
  • Dudley South
  • Gloucester
  • Warwick and Leamington
  • Warwickshire North
  • Wolverhampton South West
  • Worcester

But some Westminster-watchers are taking the idea increasingly seriously as they see what happens when Tory support drains away to UKIP.

Next May's European Elections could play right into Nigel Farage's hands: a risk-free electoral playpen in which voters can register a protest and help UKIP to out-poll the Tories.

As Gordon Brown knows only too well, a European Election performance can set the tone for a general election 12 months later.

Consider what this might mean here in the Midlands, famous for our marginal, so-called "swing" seats.

According to a poll released on Sunday, 15th September 2013 by the former Conservative deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft, it is in these crucial constituencies that UKIP's challenge is strongest.

Labour/Lib Dem marginals

Seats the Conservatives will look to gain from Labour and the Lib Dems

  • Birmingham Northfield (Lab)
  • Dudley North (Lab)
  • Newcastle-under-Lyme (Lab)
  • Solihull (Lib Dems)
  • Telford (Lab)
  • Walsall North (Lab)
  • Walsall South (Lab)

While Labour's lead in the national polls is hovering around a relatively modest 5%, Lord Ashcroft suggests that in the Tory marginals Labour's lead is more like 14%, (43% to 29%), not because of any great surge in Labour's popularity, but because of UKIP splitting the right of centre vote.

Which leaves David Cameron facing what all military tacticians will tell you is the unenviable prospect of waging war on two fronts at the same time.

So whatever Mr Fabricant may have said about a Tory/UKIP deal, the most potent unholy alliance in British politics could prove to be be the one between Ed Miliband and Nigel Farage.

Both will hotly deny it of course.

But that will not stop me putting it to them both when I continue my round of interviews with the party leaders, preparing for their respective conferences.

UKIP hold theirs in London on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st September 2013 just a week after their former deputy leader Mike Nattrass resigned from the party.

He will sit as an Independent West Midlands MEP following his non-selection on UKIP's candidates' list for next year's European polls. Mr Nattrass accused the party of selecting "cronies" of Mr Farage whom he accused of being a "totalitarian" leader like Robert Mugabe who made Machiavelli look like an amateur.

Meantime Labour gather in Brighton for their conference from Sunday, 22nd September to Wednesday 25th September 2013.

Having resigned from the Shadow Cabinet over the Falkirk "selection rigging" issue, the West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson accused his leaders of "rash decisions" about their relationship with their union paymasters.

I hope you will join us for our interviews with the unlikeliest of political odd couples - Miliband and Farage - on this weekend's Sunday Politics from 11.00 on BBC One Midlands on Sunday 22nd September 2013.

Patrick Burns Article written by Patrick Burns Patrick Burns Political editor, Midlands

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  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    44.Will Martin

    "If you want the UK to continue being destroyed by foreigners"


    The locals are making a pretty good job of it from what I can see, from cash-in-hand tax dodgers, to horsemeat sellers, to psychopathic nurses, to bent bankers and pension fund "managers".

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    It's quite simple really. If you want the UK to continue being destroyed by foreigners,carry on as you have been.
    If not,vote UKIP en masse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.


    "We've had enough of toffs running governments, we seriously need a change"


    Farage is an ex-City trader, bankrolled by the like. What sort of a "change" do you think you get with his sort?

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    "Alternative fuer Deutschland, which advocates withdrawal from the euro currency...took 4.9%"


    Thanks BBC. The Germans have shown their good sense. I trust the British will do likewise.

    Can we now have some accurate reporting on public opinion in the EZ, please?

    This was hardly the result Farage and many journos had claimed it would be, is it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    We've had enough of toffs running governments, we seriously need a change.

    Proved time after time they'll lie and deceive to get their way, they don't care a damn about the working class or elderly, they'll let them all struggle and scrape the barrel while giving the rich tax cuts.

    Doesn't Clegg prove it? "Im the average kind of guy", with a £1.5m house and thats average - bring on the clowns!

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    I admit to having voted for the following parties over my voting life:


    I have been let down by all.

    Over the last 10 years all the companies I have worked in have a massively increasing number of EU citizens working.

    Even with a Masters degree I fear I will not be able to get jobs in the UK in the next few years once I am over 50 in age. I am voting UKIP

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    The labour party, libdems and the tories have their loonies, despite the control exerted by the parties via whips and selection committees. And all have their share of people with odd social habits and immorality.
    Hardly surprising if ukip have one or two visible oddballs without all those controls or the hopefully moderating influence of office.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    I think UKIP is a cynical, opportunist, dishonest, retrogressive and potentially very destructive agent in the UK democracy.

    However, having heard Bloom's explanation (and I find him contemptible) I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this point. That is, it was contextual, and self-parody.

    NF's reaction would seem to show he's getting nervy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Godfrey Bloom (UKIP MEP)
    "Women who don't clean behind the fridge are SLUTS".

    Not my words, his.

    Is this what UKIP stands for?

    I wonder what he thinks about women who don't clean behind the fridge from "Bongo-Bongo land?

    Ah yes, they should be deported or put into concentration camps until they understand that all British women constantly clean behind the fridge.


  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    TruffleShuffle #35
    Like most UKIP supporters and Tory members (a declining number now surpassed by UKIP and Lib/Dems combined) you have no sense of humour.

    I would rather have a socially responsible party than a right wing "nasty party" or a politically "far right wing" party which counts the BNP and EDL as their supporters running the country.

    UKIP lost the plot with "Bongo-Bongo land"

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    34.Brentford Activist

    You're right again, profligate bank activity brought about the crash. What's also clear is that our ability to cope was severely curtailed by the state of the public purse when it came. Labour was in charge of the public purse at the time, and it was Labour's fault we were at risk.

    As Liam Byrne kindly pointed out on his exit from office.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    I think you will find it was Lehman Bros. who brought the world to it's knees, Brown rescued the UK banks so you could still have ATM's, credit cards, access to your salary/pension.

    Are you still to blind and full of propaganda you just don't understand?

    UKIP have NO economic policies of their own.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    31.Brentford Activist

    I stand corrected. You're right, it was Labour who very nearly bankrupted this country, not just Brown.

    They simply cannot be trusted on the economy. Plenty of empirical and historical evidence verifies this.

    And as for policies, what on Earth does Ed & Ed have on the table? 3 years in I'm yet to hear. Perhaps you can enlighten us?

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    The only way to know for sure how UKIP will be as the government is to put them into power by voting for them we can not do any worse then the Tory Lib-Dems and Labour its Gvie UKIP a chance and see hoe they do

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    TruffleShuffle #30
    I'm pretty sure you are wrong on Gordon Brown being in charge of the economy for 13 years, no, I'm certain he wasn't.

    Do you consider UKIP's economics for the 5 years following the next election to be better?

    Having watched prof. whateverhewascalled speech, all I could get from it was the same old Tory rhetoric of "The previous Government".

    No ideas of your own then.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    29.Brentford Activist
    The financial crisis was not caused by G. Brown.
    No but the helpless state of public finances were - when it hit. Don't take my word for it, IFS independent research found that we are were one of the lowest ranked countries, ranked in terms of bolstering public finances against future shock. That was entirely down to G Brown, and his 13 year spending spree.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    40,000 Tory votes going to UKIP, couldn't be better news

    1 question. If UKIP are so against E.U. membership, why do their MEP's go to the European Parliament?

    Couldn't possibly be the expenses and second homes could it?

    Patrick O'Flynn has exactly the same suntan as La Farge.

    Just what you would expect from someone who has spent this summer nice warm European/foreign country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    I've read the UKIP Manifestos and website and by and large, I agree with most of them. The stance on renewable energy is a bit suspect but they're right in saying that the EU's energy policy is pushing up the price of energy.
    Nigel Farrage is extremely forthright and can certainly fight his corner which I find encouraging.
    I'm not won yet but I'm leaning.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Please, all you UKIP supporters, Go and watch the UKIP Conference (BBC Parliament). Now listen to the rhetoric that your "leaders" are saying!

    The financial crisis was not caused by G. Brown.

    Now, if Brown hadn't rescued the banks, your ATM would have said "No money available", your salary would not have been credited to your account, your credit cards would not work anywhere in the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.


    Fair point, and I suspect it's partly orchestrated for the camera's. Either way, I have to say I don't mind though. Political correctness is both corrosive, and stifling to meaningful debate - for fear offending someone. Any behaviour that flies in the face of PC Hogwash gets my support, whatever the ulterior motive.


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