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“UKIP have Conservatives in electoral equivalent of a bear hug” – former Conservative Party press officer Dr Alex Smith

A University of Warwick sociologist and former Conservative Party press officer has described UKIP as having the Tories in the electoral equivalent of a bear hug “from which they cannot break free” ahead of tomorrow’s by-election in Rochester and Strood.

Dr Alex Smith, author of ‘Devolution and the Scottish Conservatives: banal activism, electioneering and the politics of irrelevance’ said: “For a generation, a Tory civil war has raged over Europe. Since the 1990s, the party has lost the support of thousands of pro-European activists and politicians, with many switching their allegiances to Labour or the Liberal Democrats.

"As Prime Minister, David Cameron has done little to enthuse moderate voters who might have been persuaded to support his party in government following the economic downturn of 2008 but who take offence at the anti-immigrant mantra of the Eurosceptic Tory Right, much of which is now openly and publicly flirting with joining UKIP.

“Following their victory in winning the Clacton by-election last month, UKIP have now got the Conservative Party in the electoral equivalent of a bear hug from which they cannot break free. There are only so many Eurosceptic votes to be won. At his peril, David Cameron continues to ignore 'One Nation' Tory moderates, most of whom remain agnostic on the question of Europe.

“Should the Conservatives lose Rochester and Stroud this Thursday, it is difficult to see how he will be able to lead his party to a victory at next year's general election in which the Tories might plausibly hope to win an outright majority in the House of Commons.”

Note to Editors:

Dr Alex Smith is currently in Scotland and is available for interviews via Skype or over the phone. Contact him on +44 (0)7411 665 665 or at

Lee Page, Communications Manager, Press and Policy Office, The University of Warwick. Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255, Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221. Email:

Tom Frew, International Press Officer, The University of Warwick. Tel: +44 (0)2476 575 910. Email:

Dr Alex Smith

+44 (0)7411 665 665

Lee Page, Communications Manager

+44 (0)2476 574 255

+44 (0)7920 531 221

Tom Frew, International Press Officer

+44 (0)2476 575 910