The big news is that Lord Pearson of Rannoch one of the two former Conservative Peers who now take the UKIP whip (if such a thing can be said to exist) may well be a contender for the leadership in the wake of Nigel Farage's slight move away from the top spot.
Last night he told the Telegraph: “It is rather daunting so close to a General Election, but I am throwing my hat into the ring.”He is, of course, absolutely correct on the Tory position except that he is being too kind. It comes from being an old Etonian and learning to understate everything. Let's face it, there is no current Tory position on Europe.
He cited a poll in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph as an example of how the political leaders are not in tune with public opinion on Europe. Forty three per cent said they would prefer to leave the EU altogether rather than accept the Lisbon Treaty.
He added: “I think Lisbon is a watershed. If it goes through that’s pretty much the end of the game. Our membership of the EU has removed the rights of British democracy.
“There is now a secretive process of law-making that entirely excludes the Commons and Lords and at the huge cost of £16.5 billion. We cannot afford it economically or democratically.”
Laws to regulate the City are an example of where the EU will now wield extra power, he said. And that threatened the City which is a “lifeblood which churns around the economy,” Lord Pearson, 67, added.
The peer said the Tory position on Europe was not good enough.
David Cameron is not making a great deal of sense on the subject of the Lisbon Treaty and is, presumably, hoping that the Irish will get him off the hook. The notion is that there will be a referendum if the treaty will not have been fully ratified by the time there is that putative Conservative government. But if the Irish vote No again, this particular treaty will be off the agenda and there will be no need for a referendum. All those other things the Conservatives and their front organizations complain about: the expense, the fraud, the CAP and the CFP will remain in place and nothing much is being proposed by the Conservatives.
The agenda for the Conservative Party has been published and while it promises sessions on all sorts of subjects, the most important one (given the amount of legislation that comes from that source) is not there. Just how are they going to discuss the economy or international affairs without making it clear that their options in government will be very limited?
Lord Tebbit has made his views clear again: Cameron must offer a referendum on Lisbon no matter what the outcome of the Irish one is. Otherwise, the Conservatives risk losing votes to UKIP. Maybe. That referendum has become a bit of a shibboleth - a good issue to focus people's minds on and a clear indication of our politicians' dishonesty.
I think that quite a large proportion of the electorate has moved beyond it and is beginning to understand (no thanks to the likes of Open Europe, the Conservative Party or the Taxpayers' Alliance) that there is a great deal more to the European issue than the odd referendum. That, I suspect, is what will drive people to vote for UKIP even though the desire to get rid of Brown and his lame-duck government is very strong.
Will Lord Tebbit consider following Lord Pearson and Lord Willoughby de Broke out of the Conservative Party and into UKIP? His periodic outbursts might then have a stronger effect. Does he still believe that he can influence events from within the party? Surely not. Does he think that once he is no longer a paid up member he will not be asked by the media to comment? If he does think so, he is wrong and Lord Pearson has proved it. He is still asked by the media and is generally well known both within the political bubble and outside it.
Nigel Farage is known to be supporting Lord Pearson's candidacy and that may well swing the vote in his favour despite the assumption that all Ukippers hate our Nige. Whether they hate him or not, most acknowledge his political acumen.
There are many advantages to Lord Pearson becoming leader, not least the fact that he personally will not be standing in the General Election and will be able to concentrate on policies and strategy. It is very difficult to do that and campaign at the same time.
He is seen as a man of principle and has many interests outside politics, including a successful career in business. Mind you, we hear a great deal about the need for politicians with those interests but anyone who does have them tends to be viewed with suspicion.
UKIP, we are told by all around is not yet seen as an alternative to the two main parties. Neither are the Lib-Dims quite clearly. Will that be affected by a leader from the House of Lords? That is very very hard to tell. The usual suspects will do their usual sneering about the peerage (a life one, not hereditary), the Etonian background, the interest in field sports (expect lots of silly and ignorant articles about shooting and stalking) and religion. But, given the general attitude to politicians who come from impeccably non-privileged backgrounds (in so far as anyone in this country can be said not to be privileged) all those items may actually endear him to many voters.
If, on top of that, we shall hear more about his work for disabled children and their carers, his fight for dissidents in many countries and his devoted struggle against the BBC (and this blog will make sure that people hear about all that) UKIP may well find itself in an advantageous situation.