I had a very interesting chat with a Tory friend over the weekend. I won't divulge their identity, but the topic of what happens if the Tories fail to win an overall majority on the council and UKIP hold the balance of power came up. Much to my surprise, my friend was none too bothered. "Most of them are Tories anyway". They added "There is no chance they'd get into bed with Alison Moore, so they'd have to do a deal with us". My friend felt it unlikely that UKIP would get more than a couple of seats, but if this was the situation and the two UKIP members held the balance of power, the equation would be simple. "We'd make one of them a committee chairman and the other would be deputy Mayor for a year, followed by the Mayor, then they'd swap after two years". I was intrigued by this prospect. I asked "Which committee?", they replied "Probablysomething like licensing, where they could do least damage".
I asked what other concessions that the Tories would grant? "We'd pass a motion committing Barnet to a referendum on the EU". What else "Nothing, they haven't got any other policies". So there you have it. If UKIP get in, they'll get a couple of juicy local jobs and a meaningless motion. As my friend pointed out, UKIP are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They won't serve in a Labour led administration, so the choice is jump into bed with the Tories or simply have no influence and no juicy perks.
I asked my friend how likely a scenario that is? "I think that on the day, when people actually have to cast their vote, they will get cold feet. UKIP have no track record, so although people may agree with much of what they say, they will realise that it is a wasted vote and vote Conservative". I then asked "What about UKIP in Labour areas?" He beamed and said "if they take a few seats of Labour that would be hilarious".
My impression from this conversation is that the Tories are really not that bothered about UKIP and think that even if they get a couple of seats, it will change nothing. Is this complacency or a realistic assessment of the situation, based on actually knocking on doors? I asked my friend and he replied "Lots of our supporters have said 'I'm thinking of voting UKIP' on the doorstep. They don't say they will and when it is explained that they will be wasting their vote and letting Labour in they soon change their minds".
And how did my friend think the election will go? We'll lose a few seats to Labour and wipe out the Lib Dems, except possibly Jack Cohen who people seem to like. I'm not to worried, but then I'm not in a ward that's going Labour! Barnet is a rich area and the economy has picked up, job done".
What are the risks "We get lazy and complacent and our vote doesn't turn up. I can't see anything else".