Status anxiety

Toby Young: Join my campaign to save the country

With some clever vote-trading, we can stop Ed Miliband

4 January 2014

9:00 AM

4 January 2014

9:00 AM

This is going to be the year I do my Flash Gordon routine and launch a campaign to save the universe from Ming the Merciless. By which I mean some sort of alliance between the Conservatives and Ukip to prevent Miliband becoming the next prime minister.

When I first started thinking about this, my conclusion was that any formal pact was out of the question. Not only have Cameron and Farage pooh-poohed it, but the polling evidence suggests that any gains the parties made by not fighting each other would be more than offset by their losses. Some Tory voters would be alienated by a pact, as would plenty of Kippers.

However, I now think that’s unduly pessimistic. Yes, we’re unlikely to see Cameron and Farage shaking hands on the steps of Downing Street, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for local alliances. I’m thinking of a patchwork quilt of ground-level agreements between Conservative and Ukip constituency associations rather than a national pact sanctioned by the party panjandrums.

There’s precedent for this sort of thing, at least on the Ukip side. At the last general election, local Ukip associations agreed not to oppose five Conservatives — three sitting MPs: Douglas Carswell (Clacton), Philip Davies (Shipley) and Philip Hollobone (Kettering); and two prospective parliamentary candidates: Janice Small (Batley and Spen) and Alex Story (Wakefield). It helped that all were Eurosceptics, but that’s hardly a minority view in the Tory party. It’s not out of the question that Ukip associations could be persuaded to support equally Eurosceptic Conservative candidates in other seats as well.

Now, the difficulty is that they won’t necessarily be the candidates in the Tories’ key battleground constituencies. Grant Shapps has compiled a list of the 40 most marginal and 40 most winnable Tory seats and the candidates aren’t all Eurosceptics. Ben Gummer (Ipswich), for instance, is a raging Europhiliac and we couldn’t ask any Kippers to vote for him.

So what we need to do is draw up an alternative list of Tory candidates. Some of the names on that roster could be taken from Shapps’s 40-40 campaign — James Wharton (Stockton South), for instance — while others could be taken from a longer list of target seats. The plan would be to come up with about 60 marginals in which the blue candidates are firmly in the Eurosceptic camp and then try to persuade the local Ukip activists to support them.

There are two main arguments we’ll be able to make. First, if they continue to back Ukip in these constituencies, the Labour or Lib Dem candidate will probably win and that, in turn, will mean Miliband in Downing Street and no EU referendum in the next parliament. Is that really what they got into politics for? To stop a referendum from happening?

Second, there’ll be a quid pro quo. The other part of the campaign will be to persuade Conservative activists to support purple candidates in a dozen or so seats in which the Tories don’t have a hope. Constituencies like Eastleigh, for instance, in which Ukip are better placed to unseat the Lib Dem incumbent. Conservative associations are unlikely to withdraw their candidates in these seats, but the local envelope-stuffers might switch sides, particularly if their candidate is a Europhile. And I’ll set up a vote-swapping website so Kippers in the Tory target seats can swap votes with Conservatives in the Ukip targets.

I’ve been trying to think up a good name for this campaign. The last time I ran it up the flagpole I called it ‘Unite the Right’, but that proved off-putting. Not all Kippers think of themselves as ‘right-wing’ and plenty of Conservatives find that description a bit toxic, too. The other problem with ‘Unite the Right’ is that people assume I’m campaigning for a merger between the two parties and that’s greeted with some scepticism. In fact, all I’m proposing is a one-off alliance to stop Miliband and secure a referendum in the next parliament.

So my latest idea is to call it the ‘Country before Party’ campaign. It has the virtue of appealing to people’s patriotism and if it’s successful it would be a good banner under which to campaign for an ‘out’ vote in 2017. If you’re interested in getting involved, please contact me via The email address is not meant to indicate a pro-Tory bias. The beneficiaries of the ‘Country before Party’ campaign will not be Ukip or the Conservatives, but the people of Britain.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Toby Young is associate editor of The Spectator.

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Show comments
  • DaveAtherton20

    Good luck Toby I hope you have my email already. Five years of Miliband is too much to endure.

    • la Catholic state

      There’s not that much difference between Miliaband and Cameron. And both are for all immigration…..just not the East European variety.

  • Edward Noel

    Well done, Toby, ‘Country before Party’ works much better than ‘Unite the Right’. You just need to sort out that email address now – ‘conukip’ will be endlessly derided.

  • Lord_of_Orange

    No thanks Toby.

    As a UKIP voter I can say that if UKIP stood down then I simply wouldn’t vote or would just spoil my ballot. There’s no chance in hell that I would vote Conservative after what they’ve done over the decades to this country. And you say we need to stop Ed Miliband, but why do we? What is the difference between his party and the Conservative Party?

    Under both we get more debt.
    Under both we get more immigration.
    Under both we get more EU.
    Under both we get more pointless foreign wars.
    Under both we get poor comprehensive education.

    You get the gist. So no, I won’t be voting Conservative – indeed i’d even be tempted, in the event of a UKIP candidate standing down, to vote Labour or Liberal Democrat just to destroy the Tories. I see the role of UKIP as similar to the one of the Reform Party of Canada in the 1990s – to bring about the destruction and removal of the established Conservative Party and to replace it with something that will stand up for national sovereignty, will control our borders, will have a sensible foreign policy, will restore the grammar schools and so on.

    Rather than the Toby Young plan of UKIP administering life support to the dying Tories, I rather the Peter Hitchens plan of UKIP smashing the living daylights out of the useless Tories and consigning them to the history bin where they belong.

    • tjamesjones

      This is a ballsy strategy. The Canadian reform party is an interesting parallel, and as you say, if UKIP was to have a similar impact then that would transform the UK.

      Now, for those of us with less guts….I do think that labour is worse than the Tories, and I also think that their chance of getting into power is pretty high. You say ‘Under both labour and tories we get more debt’. But is that true? I believe we’ll get more under labour. Same for immigration, EU. It’s labour who stuffed up immigration this last 15 years. I agree that under some ideal new-right we could do *better* on these 3 points than under the coalition. But I think we could also do worse under labour, and so that for me is a consideration in this next election. Do I want to be sitting there saying, oh well, we split the vote on the right, we helped Labour into power and they’re off again spending other people’s money?

      And I disagree under the final two in your list: I think under this parliament we’ve done well on (not getting into) pointless foreign wars. You might say despite David Cameron, but actually he let himself be outvoted and moved on. And do you really think that any theoretical right wing party party will have a better or more effective candidate than Michael Gove on education? If you do, we part ways on that point.

      What do you think?

      • tastemylogos

        Hi Toby

        • dalai guevara


    • Terry Field

      You are depressingly correct about the tories, but UKIP is really no answer. It’s too late.The UK is terminally and irretrievably corrupted and – simply – can never recover.
      Milliband is the future – the cheerleader for the vast hordes of the deskilled suppers at the rotten table of the state.
      Your best course of action by far is simply to leave.
      If you can bear to leave the NHS – (joke, really a joke!)

  • Davidgw

    Why not just call it, “Stop Milliband”?

  • Daniel Maris

    Join my campaign to save the country!

    Stop posh types with £300,000 in their trust fund dodging private school fees by setting up private schools at public expense using the “Free School” ruse whereby they insist on v. expensive uniforms, knowledge of Latin and intimdating interviews to ensure only the PLUs get through. 🙂

    Which is pretty rich coming from someone who needed his Dad’s help to pass his A levels.

  • global city

    If you were really interested in putting ‘country before party’ then you would be encouraging proven Eurosceptics from the Labour party to be stood down against as well…. which I fully support. Why should Gummer or Yeo be in parliament when a good Labour eurosceptic could lose out to your secret ‘unite the right’ agenda?

  • David Lindsay

    Toby Young’s ludicrous Unite The Right, Country Before Party (or “CountryB4Party”, for pity’s sake), or whatever his next name for it is going to be, has been laughed out from one end of the Conservative Party to the other end of UKIP.

    Anyone member of either who held public or party office could expect to lose party membership upon signing up to this thing. But like all media insiders, Young wildly exaggerates both the extent and the depth of Euroscepticism among Conservatives at any level.

    Having been run out of New York because no one there had ever heard of his father, Young is used to having his every whim indulged by whichever politician might happen to be seated next to him at the smartest of London soirées.

    The suggestible Michael Gove adopted wholesale Young’s cranky schools policy, of which there has been barely any take-up, with two forced closures already, and with the recent concession of the need for a “middle tier”, otherwise known as a Local Education Authority.

    But Young has overreached himself this time. His jolly ruse to merge the Conservative Party and UKIP under himself is about to see him howled and snorted out of his second world city. To where will he run next?

    • tastemylogos

      oh dear. Lindsey luv is back, and she brought Aunt Sally with her.

  • David Webb

    Please join **MY** campaign to save the country – DON’T vote Conservative.

  • la Catholic state

    Sorry…..but Conservatives need UKIP….more than UKIP needs the Conservatives. I will never ever trust Cameron and his cronies again. They are against Christian Britain….and seek to destroy it. Also please note….like Miliband, Cameron is for all immigration, just not East European immigration.

    • phil davis

      i support UKIP over the tories at the moment but why are Ukippers so extremely melodramatic and weird?

      • la Catholic state

        I didn’t know they were. Nobody could be weirder than Cameron and Co. Euw.

  • David Kay

    im Right wing and proud of it. If voting UKIP lets Labour in then so be it if that what it takes for the left wing Tories to reassess their ideology and become Right wing. Im thinking about the long term future of my country, not the short term.

    After hearing George Osborne yesterday saying he wants to cut benefits to the unemployed after he and his governments policies have made them unemployable because of mass immigration, i could never vote Conservative. Osborne should be hanged for treason

  • Ricky Strong

    The conservatives wouldn’t need such a pact if they were actually conservative. Why would I vote for a party that stabbed one of their greatest leaders in the back and vilified and ridiculed one of the greatest politicians and leaders they never had. I see much of Enoch Powell in Farage, a true politician with proven life experience, conviction, honestly, the guts to speak out when all others are bleating and a welcomed passion and belief in preserving this beautiful country of ours.

    So no thank you Toby, keep your pact. I’ll be voting for the one man who does harbour conservative values.

  • monsieur_charlie

    After looking at their website, where they have a manifesto’s for all three UK countries but not England, I intend only to vote for them if helps destroy Cameron’s socialist party. If they also stuffed the Labour party at the same time that would be a fantastic bonus. However, being realistic, the only chance they have is taking the Tories down. Any deal they do with Cameron would lose them my vote and, I suspect, a lot of other objectors.

  • The Red Bladder

    I’m rather surprised that the words “for the greater good” don’t appear here. They’re good ‘uns when you’re really desperate.

  • terence patrick hewett

    No thanks Tobes: first we will destroy the Tories: then we will destroy Labour.

  • johnslattery

    As a member of mistreated vulnerable minority, I am offended at being called a Kipper and have reported you for hate crime, Toby.

  • dalai guevara

    May I will offer an alternative prediction, Toby.
    What we are seeing is the first stage of repositioning of the ‘right wing’, preparing for an increasingly likely split off of Scotland this year.
    The political landscape will be shaken thereafter for months on end.

    Where will you stand then?

  • Slicer

    I’d much rather join the campaign for an English parliament: – correct the democratic deficit.

  • disqus_KdiRmsUO4U

    Both major parties have played a part in bringing the cuntry to its knees

    If I were to say that the public school system doesn’t help much either…I guess that that would cause a few teeth to grind.
    It’s true tho’..

    Public skoolers are the main source of our upper level quango scrats and government bureau scrats.
    What’s 100 million here or there to inquire into something that occurred twenty years ago.
    A nice little earner for said scrats that’s what !

  • eurotopia

    “EU before GB” would make a nice car sticker to bring the “phobics” to senses.