• In a recent Economist blog piece a regular columnist suggested that 'UKIP does not need to win a single House of Commons seat at the next general election to have an outsized impact. The party just needs to threaten, credibly, to siphon off enough Conservative votes to deny David Cameron’s party victory in a decisive number of seats.'
I want to put paid to this notion that UKIP has nothing to offer other than being a pressure group seeking to lurch Mr Cameron and his inner circle towards a more eurosceptic position.
This is not what we are about as a party and it is certainly not the view of the vast majority of the UKIP grassroots support that I meet on a regular basis. In fact, I'm sure most, like me, find this patronising in the extreme.
UKIP does not and should not exist to enable and articulate a disgruntled voice within the Tories, It seeks its own piece of the 'market'.
Much has been of the recent local elections results for UKIP. Our share of the vote went up and the Tories were denied several seats as a result. But I was not leaping for joy for this reason:
Political parties exist to get bums on seats. It doesn't mean much if your vote goes up tenfold if this does not translate to positions on councils, the London Assembly or indeed Westminster and Brussels. Of course it is always nice to poll well, but if you don't get representatives elected then what is the point?
This is the crossroads at which UKIP finds itself today. Does it accept this narrative that it exists solely to pressure the Tories or does it forge its own path and create its own space within the British political spectrum?
I know which option appeals to me and believe this is what most UKIP supporters feel is best. Of course there is much in common that we share with the Conservative Party, free-market economics, a tougher line on immigration, a less burdensome regulatory framework for business and our public services to name but three.
But we are not Tories in the same way that Greens are not Liberal Democrats. On Europe we disagree fundamentally.
To flesh this out further a recent opinion poll carried out by Conservative Home for Channel Four news showed that 70 per cent of grassroots conservatives would vote to come out of the EU if there was an in/out referendum now.
Downing Street conceded that this was expected and even suggested that up to 100 MPs would do likewise if they were free to vote how they wanted to.
This is the nub of it. If the conservative whips threatening and witholding key positions for the new intake of eurosceptic MPs means that these MPs do not have the strength of their convictions to stand up to them, then the 70 per cent and 100 MPs adds up to precisely nothing.
What use then is UKIP 'pressure'?
If the Tories won't articulate the mainstream view that we espouse we shouldn't seek to 'pressure' them, we should take their seats and push them aside. This is how you grow.