Martin Drake, James Hart and Nicholas Allen warn that fringe parties like UKIP and the English Democrats will not deliver Conservative policies
We learnt a significant lesson this May in Doncaster, when Conservatives work with fringe right wing parties we lose, in fact you lose badly.
The growth of the fringe right must not be ignored no matter how small. Many Conservatives dismiss fringe parties as flashes in the pan. Fringe parties like UKIP and the English Democrats lack the experience and heritage which is an integral part of the Conservative Party’s success. They fade just as quickly as they burn brightly.
However in Doncaster we have experienced the damage these parties can do. Their presence on the ballot paper was enough to shift anti-Labour voters away from the Conservatives at numerous local elections. Even though the size of their parties may grow the lack of competition come selection time means it’s not the cream that rises to the top it’s the bottom of the barrel that is scraped.
These parties and groups usually orbit around one strong willed individual who pushes their own agenda and holds court surrounded by a few personal friends. Take the English Democrats in Doncaster; as soon as Peter Davies went independent they imploded.
This can lead to a very dangerous position and democracy suffers. It stifles local democracy as decisions tend to be short term and grounded in the belief that a mythical 1950s utopia can be recreated in your own back yard – at no cost to the long suffering taxpayer! No matter how easily the fringe right gloss over their rhetoric or failings, the reality is, they are bitterly entrenched reactionaries. UKIP and the EDs spout populist slogans which they marry to hollow promises because they lack the desire and inclination to govern in a sensible way. Fortunately, the Conservative presence on Doncaster Council was enough to moderate Peter Davies. Many of the things he claimed credit for, were, in fact, our successes.
Supporters, activists and councillors need to understand that these fringe parties never represent the views of mainstream voters. They do not appeal to the broad base which the Conservative Party appeals to. Look at Lincolnshire – Vote UKIP and get a Labour controlled council! These town hall dictators are at best self serving and often incompetent, jumping ship the first time they don’t get their own way.
Get your point of view across in the communities you call home – engage with as many people as possible. Councillors must lead the way; blow the trumpet, bang the drum, use any musical instrument that you think will work. As many members and party activists as possible should become involved in voluntary work in their local communities. This is the only way to successfully combat the growth of fringe parties.
In short, stick to your guns and remember the shared goal that we all have – to return a Conservative government in 2015!