I joined the Conservative Party because I have
Conservative values. If I wanted to support UKIP I would join UKIP.
There is no third way here. In a democracy you pick your platform, you
fight for it and the electorate takes their choice.
To see Parliamentary colleagues who are calling
for an ever closer association with UKIP is exasperating for those of us who
are at the coalface in the fight against Labour to secure a majority for the
Conservative Party. Just think about it. We are trying to explain
to swing voters why the Party is for them while colleagues elected under our
banner are busy talking up another party. The only winner is the Labour
Party. Ed Miliband can just sit back, say nothing and let us mess up the
election by ourselves if the Party carries on with this behaviour.
The rise of UKIP is not an indication that there
is a majority of support for centre-right politics. The appeal of UKIP is
populist and nationalist: it does not fit neatly into the left right
spectrum. The last thing the Conservative Party should do is to run
towards UKIP. We should be confident about our own platform and values,
and get out fighting for it.
If on the other hand your heart lies with UKIP
then that is where you should be. It isnt very honourable to be elected
as a Conservative, to enjoy the safety that comes with a Conservative majority
and then wilfully undermine the Party’s collective effort to fight for a
Conservative majority by talking up the other side. Especially when we
have individuals making personal, financial and professional sacrifices
fighting as candidates as we speak.
Perhaps in rural seats with healthy Conservative
majorities UKIP voters are just like Conservatives. That however is not
true in places like Thurrock or in the urban seats and northern seats that we
aspire to win to secure a majority. The derisory performance by Labour in
the recent elections shows what a desperate hole Labour is in and yet some
colleagues some determined to commit political hara-kiri by making it about the
Conservatives and Europe again!
There is a good portion of UKIP that wishes to
destroy the Conservative Party. Many UKIP members were once
Conservatives, and although some members left to join UKIP for entirely
honourable reasons, others because they had scores to settle and will stop at
nothing to ensure that the Conservatives are defeated.
Last year, Thurrock saw its first UKIP councillor
elected following an election where the Conservative vote split with a high
profile independent which allowed UKIP to come through. To his credit
this chap has thrown himself into the role with an impressive amount of
enthusiasm. However he is totally opposed to academies; he wants an
increase in his councillor allowance; and he regularly votes with Labour in the
council chamber. Where is the common ground for either of our two parties
Jacob Rees-Mogg has stated that for both
parties support is stronger among the over 50s, as if to say that we are competing
for the same vote. And herein lies the real issue, and why those who would
cosy up to UKIP are so wrong. We failed to break through in 2010 because
our electoral base was too narrow. If we are going to win in 2015, we need
to be reaching out to middle income families on the way up, to young people, to
people who haven’t been voting for the last twenty years because they dont feel
anyone speaks for them. If we spent more time telling them that we had
reduced immigration by a third and less time talking about Europe, I can
promise you, UKIP would not be doing nearly so well.
It is quite simple. We have a Prime Minister who has
vetoed a European Treaty, has secured a reduction in the EU budget, has pledged
to renegotiate our relationship with Europe and has guaranteed a referendum in
2017 if he has a majority in Parliament. This is the most robust position
we have had on Europe since Margaret Thatcher and one which every Conservative
should be able to happily support. We will get that referendum if the
Party gets behind the Prime Minister and campaigns to win a majority. We
wont get it if colleagues engage in shenanigans to make themselves look all
tough and Euro-sceptic but fail to deliver anything other than succour to the
Labour Party. There is only one team that can defeat Labour at the next
General Election. You are either with us or you are not.