One party that has not been getting much attention thus far in the General Election campaign, out there on the fringe, is UKIP. From a Tory point of view, of course, the less attention UKIP gets, the better: any traction from a concerted campaign dragging up Young Dave’s less-then-cast-iron-guarantee of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty would be most unwelcome.
So can UKIP make a difference? They’ll get a Party Election Broadcast, which will bring them at least to the attention of those not quite fast enough with the remote control. But they will only get the Euro-issue to lodge in the minds of the electorate if they hammer it home, and that means making their campaign Lisbon Treaty and Referendum full stop.
And that may be where the Tories get let off the hook: Lord Pearson, the party’s new leader, obsesses with immigration, so much so that the issue gaining traction could well be that UKIP finds itself on the same ground as the BNP. If Pearson can be persuaded to put away what is in reality his race card, then his party may dent the Tory vote.
How much? Well, it would only have to poll more votes than the majority by which a Tory candidate loses. Only then will Cameron’s volte face on a referendum come back to bite him.
[UPDATE: This post has also been featured on Liberal Conspiracy's Westminster blog. My thanks to Sunny Hundal]