UKIP's gains will be illusory and short lived. Remember what happened to the SDP

2 May 2013 at 18:38

It would be very helpful if some of our more excitable backbenchers before they do a very passable corporal Jones of not panicking took a deep breath, poured themselves a large scotch and read a little history.

In 1981 the SDP was born. They broke the mould of British politics. If you include Bill Rodgers and David Owen, thirty Labour MPs defected. And there were fevered rumours that twenty five Tories were about to join them as between 1981/2 the SDP was the most popular party in Britain with a staggering 50% in the opinion polls. As it happened only one Tory, Anthony Brocklebank Fowler (who became a man of the people by renaming himself Chris Fowler) jumped ship.

This was at a time when Labour and the Tories were horribly split. Michael Foot had reclaimed his party for the left. And Conservative backbenchers were conspiring to oust their horribly unpopular leader, Margaret Thatcher. The attractive USB of the SDP were that they were by and large decent middle class professionals who had never been involved in politics before. They were fed up with the divisiveness of the main parties. They wanted to adopt a middle way. A pragmatic non political answer to our ills. Their policies were sensible, their candidates reasonable and they stormed the town halls. They won by election after by election.

And at the 1983 election they polled 25.4% compared to Labour’s 27.6%. The informed political wisdom was that this was the death knell of the major parties. How wrong they were. The SDP Alliance fizzled out in 1988 after another Thatcher landslide in 1987.

Now compare this with whatever happens with the Kippers tomorrow. No matter how successful they are, no matter how many council seats they gain they won’t even be a foot note in the shattering performance of the SDP.

Lets have a look at why. The message of the eighties is that the public despised polarised politics, unless as in 1987, they can see some financial benefits for themselves and their families. The Kippers are a ragbag of the flotsam and jetsam of British politics. When scrutinised their candidates have two years of nasty tomfoolery to show just how unprepared and unpleasant they really are. Their economic policies make Labour’s look like a model of prudence and good sense. Their success will be their downfall simply because the electorate will wonder how on earth their lives can be improved. And the tabloids, not just the broadsheets, will have a field day. They will feast on the incompetence, the closet racism and general barminess that elected so many people out of a sense of angst and anger rather than deliberation.

In a few months Farage will graduate from being a fad to a farrago.

Ken Clarke has been of great service to the Tories by calling the Kippers a bunch of clowns.

I have always found clowns to be rather sinister.

So now is the time for Lynton Crosby to set his attack dogs to work scouring for every off colour tweet and every dodgy comment from those new councillors carrying the Kipper banner. It is time to expose and time to reveal them for what they are. A deeply unpleasant rabble of malcontents trying to tap in and exploit the worries and insecurities of those who are suffering from thirteen years of Labour financial incompetence.

There will be only one winner tomorrow. Apathy.

Don’t be too surprised if Nadine Dorries after reading the runes has a political death bed conversion. She still is deprived of the Tory whip and can’t yet stand for re selection. She may not have much of a choice.

But compared to the SDP in the early eighties any victory the kippers have will be illusory and short.

And a message to our excitable back benchers who will be calling for an accommodation and probably the head of David Cameron? Be careful what you wish for.

Keep calm and carry on.