The prospect of the Conservative Party in bed with the UK Independence Party after the next general election raises the intriguing question of who will be shafting who. Or should that be whom, Mr Farage?
In the words of British Prime Minister David Cameron, Ukip is a bunch of “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”. Yet on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show recently, Cameron refused to rule out a potential coalition. Prevaricating in case he needs to change his tune later, he said, “I don’t want pacts or deals with anybody.” But he then shot himself in the foot by declaring, “I want a modern, compassionate Conservative party elected to run the government of this country.”
Meanwhile, Ukip leader Nigel Farage declined to rule out cosying up to the Tories, although he rejected an alliance with Labour or the Scottish National party. Of course, once Farage discovers he might be able to gain a modicum of power and influence by doing a deal with the devil, both Ed Milliband (current Labour leader) and Nicola Sturgeon (current leader of the Scottish National Party) could find themselves the target of full frontal blandishments.
Farage – all mouth and no trousers as Les Dawson would have said – gave his usual speech: “I’m pretty clear I want my country back. I want us to be a self-governing nation. The big elephant in the room still is the fact that most of our legislation is not made in this country, it’s made somewhere else… I want our democracy back. I want control of our borders back. I want us to be able to negotiate our own deals on the world stage. To do all of that I need a referendum. We need a referendum.”
Separately, Farage launched an attack on doctors and nurses working in the British Isles. According to him, they do not speak good English. Despite the fact that doctors are not allowed to practice in the National Health Service unless they have achieved a certain mark in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), he jibed, “Don’t we want to live in a country where we speak the same language? And isn’t it scandalous that we are not training enough nurses and doctors in our own country?” Neither question (the second not even following on from the first) addresses the issue of whether or not doctors and nurses speak adequate English.
Interestingly, according to the 2011 Census: “Ninety two per cent (49.8 million) of usual residents aged three years and over spoke English (English or Welsh in Wales) as their main language. Of the eight per cent (4.2 million) of usual residents aged three years and over with a main language other than English, 79 per cent (3.3 million) could speak English very well or well. Less than half a per cent (138,000) of all usual residents aged three years and over could not speak English.”
Farage is currently rethinking Ukip policy on a range of subjects from health to education in an attempt to win over voters any way he can. In the great game of political poker, he is looking for a royal flush (or at least turning a trick or two). But bed-hopping can become a habit. As former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George once said of cabinet minister Sir John Simon, “The right honourable and learned gentleman has twice crossed the floor of the house, each time leaving behind a trail of slime.”