Sunday, December 23, 2012

Traditional Tories defecting to new UKIP (UK Independence Party) in droves, millions of voters joining, British Establishment can no longer ignore

UKIP, UK Independence Party


"Creating a successful new party in the British political system is fearsomely hard. Not even the combined talents and contacts books of Roy Jenkins, David Owen and Shirley Williams could in the end achieve lift off for the SDP in the Eighties.

So it is perhaps no wonder that the political class has been very slow to take seriously the rise of a still small right-of centre party that has been routinely written off as peopled by cranks and gadflies, fruitcakes and “closet racists”.
But we have now reached a point where not even the most complacent member of the British Establishment can ignore the rise of Ukip. Three separate opinion polls on Sunday put it on a 14 per cent vote share. More polls yesterday confirmed that it is in double figure territory. This does not mean it is yet on course to win a slew of seats at the next general election – though that is no longer an unthinkable scenario – but it does mean it is taking millions of voters from the Westminster parties.
Were the voters flocking to Ukip’s banner coming in roughly equal number from the Conservatives and Labour, then the leaderships of those parties could afford to regard it as an embarrassment rather than an existential threat. But detailed new polling shows Ukip is attracting approximately a dozen people who voted Tory in 2010 for every one who voted Labour.

If this trend continues David Cameron can forget about winning the next general election.

The party’s rapid progress has been a team effort. It is full of people who believe profoundly in its values and work like Trojans on its behalf. But two men in particular can take the lion’s share of the credit for the quadrupling of its support.

The first is its leader Nigel Farage – a straight-talking ball of energy with real-world experience who has been shown to be bang on the money about the failings of the European Union. Mr Farage’s speeches at the European Parliament, during which he lays waste to the reputations of EU eminences such as Herman Van Rompuy, have become internet sensations.

By banning anyone who has previously belonged to the BNP or any other racist party from joining Ukip, Mr Farage has also removed the ability of the political Establishment to associate it with the Far Right in the eyes of public opinion.

That battle was decisively won last month when fairminded people of many political persuasions turned on Rotherham social services for arguing that Ukip members should not foster children from mainland Europe.

You may find the identity of the second man who has helped Ukip move from a three per cent party to a 12 or 14 per cent party more surprising: it is David Cameron himself

From the moment he leapt into coalition with the pro-immigration, pro-EU Nick Clegg, Mr Cameron began to alienate traditional Conservative supporters.

The baleful influence of the Lib Dems can be detected in almost every nook and cranny of Government policy.

The appointment in 2010 of Ken Clarke as Justice Secretary heralded the start of two years of soft law and order policies.

Equally, there has been no decisive break from the meddling of the European Court of Human Rights.

Billions more has been thrown into the foreign aid money pit too, despite major cuts being imposed upon our armed services. Energy bills have been allowed to soar, in part to raise funds for fashionable green initiatives of dubious value.

And while immigration has been reduced, that reduction has proceeded at snail’s pace.

At the insistence of the Lib Dems, non-contributory benefits were last year uprated by 5.2 per cent – far ahead of pay rises for working people.

Above all, the Government has let down Conservative supporters on the European Union, with Mr Cameron continually fending off demands for an In/Out referendum. By the end of 2013 when all controls on Romanian and Bulgarian immigration into Britain will be removed at the behest of Brussels, the two great issues of Europe and immigration will become one.

Mr Cameron has presented himself as the Better Off In leader of what is now largely a Better Off Out party. So it is hardly surprising that the alternative offered by Mr Farage has been so appealing to so many.

For a long time many Conservatives who were deeply disappointed by Mr Cameron gave him the benefit of the doubt, understanding that he had been given a difficult political hand to play.

But a few weeks ago he managed even to alienate a substantial portion of these sympathisers by picking an entirely unnecessary fight about gay marriage. Not only did this remind long-suffering Conservatives about the last entirely unnecessary row he picked with them (about grammar schools), but it also transmitted a more damaging signal: that David Cameron holds their views in contempt. The most recent boost Ukip has received – around four points in the polls during the last month – is surely a direct result.

All of these actions by Mr Cameron were underpinned by an assumption he may finally be understanding is incorrect: that traditional Tories have nowhere else to go. They do.

And a lot of them have already gone. And the centre-ground “progressives” his advisers told him would be won over by more foreign aid and gay rights have failed to show up to replace them. Can Cameron win back the traditionalists by 2015?

Some, perhaps. But some won’t be good enough." 


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