There is no doubt in my mind that UKIP can stop the Tories winning the next General Election. I'm not so naive as to believe they will get many, if any, Parliamentary seats, but I do believe that they are capable of attracting enough votes to let Labour gain a majority. We have seen what UKIP is achieving in by-elections. At the Corby election, UKIP came third, well ahead of the LibDems, and their vote was almost equal to Labour's majority over the Tories.
Even so, Cameron persists in treating UKIP with contempt having stated and re-affirmed his belief that UKIP members are mostly "closet racists". He has also referred to them as "nutters and fruitcakes" which is hardly likely to endear UKIP members to the Tories. On the BBC, a few days ago he repeated his claim that UKIP members were "pretty odd" people.
The claim by the Tories that UKIP's position in the polls is to be expected at mid-term in the election cycle, may to some extent be true, but this was always said about the LibDems who in due course gained seats. This was in spite of Tory claims that voting for them would let Labour in. No doubt Cameron will take the same view of UKIP. The elections for the European Parliament come before the General Election, and if UKIP does better here than it did last time, a lot of people may decide that they would not be wasting their vote if the supported UKIP in the subsequent General Election.
But the stupidity of Cameron is to continue attacking UKIP as those ex-Tory voters who now support UKIP are unlikely to be brought back into the fold by such an approach, indeed I believe it would harden their attitudes. This is especially so as UKIP are taking on-board a number of policies which have been discarded by the Tories in their rush to gain the "centre ground", and this is attractive to disillusioned Tories, particularly in the shires. If Cameron had any sense, he would face the fact that UKIP could hold the keys to Downing Street at the next election and that if the Tories are to win, he will need to come to some accommodation with Nigel Farrage, something which now seems totally impossible.
And what is "odd" about UKIP? Well one huge "oddity" is that they have some policies which they actually stick to, and don't change every five minutes following some poll or report from a focus group. It has a party leader who has beliefs, unlike the other parties whose beliefs vary according to the direction of the wind. Now that is very odd!
Alastair Campbell New Hereditary Peer
5 minutes ago