The flea is wagging the tail that’s wagging the dog …


20yr-Euro-Parliament-turnout-79-09You have probably heard of the expression ‘the tail wagging the dog’ but the current spasm that has gripped the Tory party is more like ‘the flea is wagging the tail that’s wagging the dog’. 

There are a number of opinion polls that show little support for a UK withdrawal from the EU. Certainly those that are interested in seeing Britain leave would likely have voted for UKIP in the mid-term elections, as there would have been no safer way of making your voice heard on this subject.

As with any poll, my logic over who might vote UKIP by way of protest must equally carry a margin of error, however, I would argue that the margin would be no more than 10% as most anti-Europe voters of whatever political persuasion would certainly make the ballot journey UKIP in the mid-term elections.

UKIP survives on low poll turnouts and the recent election saw a turnout of just 31%. To give you some idea of how accurate my analysis could be, UKIPs major success in its entire 20 year history has been the European elections that have seen it gain 13 of the 73 UK seats in the European Parliament. Thirteen MEPs may seem impressive, but this has been achieved on the back of proportional representation with extremely low voter turnouts over the 20 year period, as the graph above left demonstrates. Parties such as UKIP and the Green party fare reasonably well in this electoral environment.

Who can we blame? Well, strangely, Tony Blair. It was he that started the ‘Third Way’, the strategy of taking the centre political ground to woo both left and right. Consensus and not conviction politics. Cameron has followed along the same path, much to the annoyance of the hard right (the righties?). Now, fearful of the UKIP threat, the marginal and some not-so-marginal Conservative backbenches are panicking and are almost in open revolt. The upper echelons of Cameron’s cadre are ‘supremely relaxed’ whilst giving every indication that in fact they are not. UKIP’s Nigel Farage surfaces occasionally in the media, with pint in his hand, comparing Cameron’s lot to that of John Major when he was under siege in the early 90s, thus wagging the tail that wags the dog a little bit more.

In contrast, Labour are quite content to explain that they are not supporting a referendum because to do so in the midst of a recession would invite a mass exodus of businesses and jobs over the next four years in the run up to the referendum, causing disastrous uncertainty.  Ah, how the tables turn!