The Corner

Bloody Nora!

Elections for the EU’s Parliament are due next year, and a new poll has just put the euroskeptics of UKIP (on 23 percent) ahead of the Conservatives (22 percent), but behind Labour.

The (Labour-supporting) Daily Mirror summarizes UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s response to the news:

 ’Bloody Nora!’ Nigel Farage’s shock at UKIP’s Europe poll lead over Tories. UKIP leader turns the air blue, says David Cameron is a fool and claims he would ‘do a deal’ with Labour’s Ed Miliband.

Details (and plenty of color) here.

Now, this is just one poll, and Brits tend to use European elections as an opportunity to show what they think of the EU and, indeed, to let off steam generally. Nevertheless, it helps illustrates the extent of the problem that faces Prime Minister David Cameron as the 2015 general election looms ever closer. To have any chance of winning, he must remain relatively close to the center ground (broadly defined) that is, as it happens, where, these days, his own sympathies mainly appear to lie. But he has to do so in a way that does not alienate the natural Tories who are still the heart of his party, and who now have somewhere else to go.

Unfortunately, that has not been his approach.

“Cameron is a fool,” Farage tells the Sunday People. “When he abuses us he doesn’t just abuse UKIP but most of his own voters.”

Conservatives who “lend” their votes to UKIP in EU elections generally return them to the Tories in national polls. They understand Britain’s brutal electoral math. In a first-past-the-post system, a vote for UKIP splits the right-of-center electorate and lets Labour in through the middle. As it is, UKIP voters (around 3 percent of those voting) almost certainly cost the Conservatives an outright win in the 2010 (national) election.

Now they threaten to sink him altogether.

Same old, same old is not going to do the trick Mr. Cameron. 

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