From the Tory Diary, January 19, 2007:
In an article for the House Magazine (not yet online) Sir Malcolm Rifkind sees benefits for the Conservative Party from recent defections to UKIP. “If some Europhobes wish to defect to UKIP,” he wrote, “as a result of the Conservative line on Europe, then that only highlights the degree of our reasonableness.” “Shedding some of these divisive elements may even help the Conservative Party avoid the trouble that bedevilled it in the 1990s,” he continued.
The former Foreign Secretary said that UKIP poses no threat to the Conservative Party because people understood that withdrawal from Europe was an “utterly reckless and untenable proposition.” (Although that is not the view of many Tory members).
This week’s Economist also suggests that there may be some political benefits from the defections to UKIP. The Bagehot column wonders if the defections will convince voters that David Cameron’s changes to the party are “for real.” “After all, change that doesn’t upset some people isn’t change at all,” the weekly newspaper concludes.
That worked well, didn’t it?