As the Tories attempt to find something to cheer in the thoughts of the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the seventeenth Baronet, who has regaled their party conference with more ideas to bribe rich pensioners and screw the poor, one figure out there on the right is making friendly noises in the direction of Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers at UKIP.
One serving MEP, what am I bid? It's with you over there Sir, yes you, the one already on his third pint
And that figure, unlike such less than distinguished beings as the loathsome Toby Young, who has espoused the idea in the past, has actually been elected to serve as an MEP, which means it has to be Dan, Dan The Oratory Man. Hannan is widely believed to be the next prominent Tory to jump ship and join the Farage fringe, so perhaps his call is a last act of reconciliation before doing so.
Fair play to Hannan, though, he has at least got his ideas into the Daily Mail, which at present is highly supportive of Young Dave and his jolly good chaps. He begins by telling readers “Seeing my old friend Mark Reckless in another party is sad. A devoted and patriotic MP, he has just taken the difficult decision to leave the Conservatives for Ukip”. And, as the man said, there’s more.
“But the real sadness is that there should be two such parties in Britain, their rivalry retarding their shared objectives”. We might know what the Kippers’ objectives were – apart from paranoia over the EU – if they didn’t adopt and then junk policies on the fly, as Mr Thirsty was doing at the weekend. Hannan’s real fear is “as things stand, Ed Miliband is likely to become Prime Minister with around 35 per cent support”.
And you can tell that this is pointless waffle when he tells “Still, the values of Ukip and the Tories are not so very different: patriotism, freedom, family, enterprise, dislike of the European Court of Human Rights, support for our Armed Services, resentment of the power-crazed EU”. So draping oneself in the flag, xenophobia, and a list of woolly concepts that can be defined to suit, then.
Then he lets readers know that what Reckless and Carswell did was perfectly honourable: “both men wrestled with a decision they found incredibly difficult, risking their careers for reasons of conscience”. So leaving the Tories and joining UKIP is not unacceptable in the right circumstances. Perhaps it is also acceptable if the person departing has proposed a pact and been rebuffed.
Hannan has proposed some kind of pact with UKIP, and he must know his proposal will be swiftly rebuffed: that would give Farage the credibility he craves, and Cameron is not about to do that. He would then be able to say he had exhausted his options and join Mr Thirsty for the obligatory pint of Landlord. His article merely underscores the rumours of his impending defection.
Iain Dale just said the next departure isn’t an MP. Hannan fits that bill.