When Daniel Hannan (here) writes about UKIP’s chances in the North East, there is only one logical conclusion: he expects the Conservatives to take a real battering at the polls in May. It shouldn’t really be any surprise that one Conservative MEP suggests that people vote for….another Conservative MEP. In other news, bears do indeed defecate in the woods and the Pope’s Catholicism is undeniable.
But the detail is interesting – why is he worried about the Conservative seat in the North East?
The North East has three seats: one Labour, one Conservative and one Liberal Democrat. Since their high-water mark in 2009/2010, the Lib Dems’ vote shares have plummeted dramatically. Yet in 2009 UKIP was barely a couple of percentage points behind them. As the UKIP vote has risen, with all other things being equal one would expect the Liberal Democrats to lose their seat to UKIP.
Daniel Hannan is a Conservative who believes that Britain would be better off outside the European Union. A good view to hold, but with the odd exception (his voting record in the European Parliament doesn’t inspire the utmost confidence), he’s one of the least-worst Conservative MEPs. In many ways he’s more in tune with UKIP beliefs than those of his own Party, which begs the question why he doesn’t have the courage of his convictions and join UKIP.
So why, then, is Daniel Hannan portraying Martin Callanan as an arch-eurosceptic? We’re talking about an MEP who supported the EU’s multi-annual financial framework deal for example. If it’s the Lib Dem seat under threat, surely Dan Hannan would prefer a UKIP MEP to a Lib Dem one?
The answer must be that he feels Martin Callanan’s seat is not safe. It cannot be the Lib Dems that worry him, surely. Perhaps he’s concerned about such a Labour landslide that Labour wins two seats to UKIP’s one – or even a UKIP landslide where UKIP wins two, and Labour one. If so, then Mr. Hannan must have very low expectations indeed of his party’s chances.