Let me return like a moth to the flame to the question of UKIP. I get plenty of criticism on this site for fighting the good fight against the use and extension of EU power on the simple ground that I do not join UKIP, who happen to agree with some of my views. I will try again to explain why I and other like minded Conservative MPs will continue to battle for the restoration of UK democracy as Conservatives.
Some UKIP supporters claim to value UK democracy, but they refuse to recognise or accept its results. They have this odd idea that there is a natural UKIP majority of all voters out there just waiting to take us out of the EU, when the reality of election after election is different.
The main reason I do not support UKIP is I do not believe it can deliver its fundamental promise of taking us out of the EU. The second reason is I do think we need to negotiate a new relationship with the EU which preserves our trade and other matters like shipping, aviation and pipelines rights. UKIP never talks about what kind of relationship it would want with the EU on exit and how it would achieve this. The third reason is we have to take the majority – preferably a large majority – of the British people with us as we change this relationship.
Over 20 years of trying UKIP has not won a single Parliamentary seat. Its best chances came at Eastleigh and Newark in this Parliament, when UKIP support was at its highest in polls. It won neither. All the polls show it will not win a single seat in 2015. There would need to be a seismic shift in the polls in its favour, taking it to a higher level of support in a General Election than it managed in a European election. No commentator or independent observer think that likely. The reluctance of UKIP to select high profile candidates for possible target seats for 2015 and get them working also implies UKIP themselves do not expect to win anything.
Democratic politics is about the day to day work of looking after a constituency, listening to your voters, and representing all, including those you disagree with. It is about trying to win the big public debates, to move opinion in the direction you think will do most good for your fellow countrymen and women. I think principles do matter in politics, but those of us who have certain democratic principles have to understand that we only have the right or the opportunity to implement them when enough of the public agree and will vote for them. Compromise and toleration are also important parts of democracy. They do not mean all who practice these democratic traits are traitors or liars as some UKIP supporters constantly assert.