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Considering the facts of the Coalition deal with the Liberal Democrats*, perhaps we should be asking if a deal has already been struck between the Conservative Party and UKIP.

It would explain why David Cameron’s performance in yesterday’s leader debate was so lacklustre – maybe he doesn’t think he needs to sell himself.

A deal with UKIP makes perfect sense to those of us who have watched politics carefully over the last few years – the ease with which Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless transferred from one party to the other, keeping their Parliamentary seats in the process, shows how interchangeable the two parties really are.

Labour’s Andy Burnham has written to Cameron, calling on him to “come clean” about any such plans.

He wrote: “During last night’s debate you proved that you cannot defend your record, which is why you cannot win a majority. It is now clear that you are preparing to do a deal with UKIP.

“As someone who follows rather than leads their party, you will know that a deal with UKIP is what the Tory Party wants. A growing number of your MPs and up to half of Conservative activists are arguing for it. Local Tory parties are already striking deals with UKIP up and down the country and, of course, two of your MPs have already crossed the floor.

“We know the terms of such a deal. Nigel Farage has said he would work with you in exchange for ‘a full and fair referendum to be held in 2015’. You have said you would be ‘delighted’ to offer this.

But the real terms of a deal would see the end of the NHS as we know it.

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“Your Health and Social Care Act has increased NHS privatisation, and UKIP want to go even further.

“Private providers have won a third of NHS contracts to provide clinical services since your reforms. Nigel Farage has said he supports ‘an insurance-based system of healthcare’, while his deputy has warned that ‘the very existence of the NHS stifles competition’. UKIP’s ex-Tory MP, Douglas Carswell, has called for an ‘open market’ in healthcare contracts.

“This shared agenda will be the real basis for your decision to work together. Your deal with UKIP is a poisonous proposition that would deny working people the care they rely on from a service they cherish.”

Of course, it may well be that Cameron’s Tories and Farage’s Kippers will be unable to muster up a Parliamentary majority together – even in combination with the Liberal Democrats, if that party survives electoral annihilation. Only your vote can decide that.

What will you do?

Will you let these slick operators kill the NHS on the sly?

*Finalised on March 16, 2010 – nearly two months before that year’s general election.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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