Nick Boles and Nadine Dorries - a tale of two electoral pacts
Ever since the 2010 General Election, the Conservative Party has been mulling over the possible long-term consequences of coalition, mainly in preparation for a forthcoming era of political indecision and hung parliaments. On the left is Nick Boles - privately-educated, PPE Oxford, son of a knight, moderniser, europhile, gay - who imagined an electoral pact with the Liberal Democrats. On the right is Nadine Dorries - comprehensive-educated, former nurse, daughter of a bus driver, traditionalist, eurosceptic, anti-gay-marriage - who has mooted a deal with Ukip.
Nick Boles wrote back in 2010:
If large numbers of Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs feel that the harsh but necessary measures being implemented by the coalition are destroying their chances of being re-elected, they will begin to panic and look for opportunities to bolt.And here's Nadine Dorries in this week's Spectator:
That’s why I conclude my book with a call for an electoral pact. This autumn both David Cameron and Nick Clegg should ask their parties to approve a binding agreement to fight the 2015 general election as coalition partners.
...the pact would give parliamentary candidates in constituencies in seats held by a coalition party a free run against other parties... We would also agree on which coalition party should contest the most marginal seats of the opposition parties. If the voters do decide to embrace the alternative vote, the pact would require each of the coalition partners to urge their supporters to give their second preference vote to the candidate from the other coalition party.
She has already mooted 2015 candidates with a joint Ukip/Tory endorsement. Now she reveals she will be seeking that arrangement for herself. ‘I will be having that kind of conversation with my association,’ she says. She’d need its permission to stand as a joint candidate - but she seems happy for herself and other Tory MPs to seek this before the leadership then follows.Nick Boles was 'notably' not slapped down for his LibDem dalliance: indeed, he was rewarded with a job in Government. David Cameron made him a junior minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government.
She says she can appreciate the conflict felt by Tory voters who went for Ukip in the local elections. ‘There are members in my association who approached me recently who are confused,’ she said. ‘They have always been Conservative and will never change their allegiance but feel very much as though they have a huge amount of empathy with Ukip. I feel it would be a travesty if Ukip came in and took the seats off our councillors or indeed me when actually their policies and their beliefs are very much Ukip. Because what we have done, we have thrown clothes off and they have picked them up and put them on.’
Nadine Dorries has been swiftly slapped down for her proposed Ukip alliance. David Cameron said his party 'doesn't do pacts and deals'.