Jackie Doyle-Price is the MP for Thurrock
As the political parties digest the implications of Thursday’s election results, there is the predictable call by some colleagues that a UKIP vote means that the Prime Minister needs to do more on Europe. I have to advise them that the UKIP surge has less to do with Europe and more to do with a general discontent with the political class. The way we deal with that is to become a lot better at communicating our messages. That is a challenge for the Party leadership, but it is also a challenge for all of us who are supporters of the Conservative Party.
Lets just look at the results with a cool head. The Conservatives are topping the polls. Mid-term in challenging circumstances that is no mean feat. The results are truly disastrous for Labour – fighting it out with UKIP for second and third place with a vote share in the low 20 per cents is a truly appalling position for a party with any expectation of forming a Government.
So to the naysayers in our Party, it should be clear that the prognosis for the General election is good, and that there is every prospect of securing the majority which eluded us in 2010, providing we all knuckle down and work towards it.
Of course there are those who are impatient with us – that is why we need to get out on those doorsteps and engage with them. Here in Essex, we have seats where some candidates think they needn’t bother knocking on doors. Such complacency leaves them as sitting ducks waiting to be picked off by UKIP. For those of us in battleground territory, it is something we do all the time, and we therefore have a good understanding about how opinion is shifting. What we can see is no swing back to Labour, but a general frustration with politicians which has played out in a strong showing by UKIP. Put simply, many people feel that there is no one speaking for them and dealing with the things that really matter to them.
It is that section of the electorate who embraced Margaret Thatcher and embraced Tony Blair. It is a vote which says ‘a plague on all your houses’, It is soft and it swings all over the place. We haven’t yet managed to convince them that we are on their side. It is why we need to be so much sharper about getting our narrative out. On welfare, on immigration, on Europe, and on allowing people to keep more of what they earn, we have a good and popular story to tell. We have to sell it. If some colleagues spent more time on the doorstep and less time picking fights with the Prime Minister, they would understand that the UKIP surge is not about European policy, and would fight the perception that the Conservative Party is out of touch and not for them.
There will also be those who renew calls for a Conservative UKIP electoral pact. It really should not be imagined that UKIP’s votes are all coming from the Conservative Party. They are not. In fact, the rise in the UKIP vote has much to do with the fact that voters who have supported Labour in the past are left cold by Ed Miliband.
The fact is that this Country cannot afford another Labour Government. And it is incumbent on all of us who have the privilege of representing the Conservative Party to work towards attaining that majority. On polling day, an Essex newspaper carried a letter from the MP for Billericay which was critical of the Prime Minister and as good as invited Conservatives to vote UKIP. It is unsurprising then that so many then did. There is no room for self-indulgence which serves only to damage the Conservative brand. It is very easy to put out tweets that say ‘look at me’ but think on. Winning the battle will require focus, discipline, strong messages and hard work. It is time to stop fighting eachother and take the battle to the doorsteps.