Monday, 5 March 2012
UKIP – just a Conservative Party splinter?
Last weekend saw the UKIP Spring Conference in Skegness. There were two developments of interest to English Nationalists.
First UKIP’s much trumpeted English Parliament Policy ran into a storm of diehard Unionist opposition, even though Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall had reduced the agenda item from a policy proposal to a “workshop” – so much for those UKIP attack dogs who assured anyone foolish enough to listen that UKIP was ready to be a home for English Nationalists!
Second UKIP had a great success in recruiting the high profile Conservative MEP, Roger Helmer to defect to them, this rights the balance after David Campbell-Bannerman’s deflection to the Tories last year.
Roger Helmer is an old Eurosceptic campaigner and his recruitment is a great coup for UKIP - in its role as a Tory splinter party, lobbying to get the Tories to become ‘True Blue’ Eurosceptic (instead of pinkish Europhile??).
Here is what the BBC had to say about Roger Helmer’s defection:-
“CONSERVATIVE MEP ROGER HELMER JOINS UKIP
MEP Roger Helmer has defected from the Conservative Party to the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
The East Midlands MEP ….. told BBC Radio 5live that his new party was more in tune with the concerns of Tory voters.
"UKIP better represents the views of Conservative voters than David Cameron's Conservative Party," he said; on a wide range of issues:
"Take Europe, take climate change and energy, take immigration.
"On all these issues, UKIP presents the sort of policies that Conservative voters believe in and David Cameron's Conservative party sadly does not."
"Conservative voters instinctively know what the right thing is but unfortunately the Conservative Party doesn't."”
Here is what Simon Richards from the ‘Freedom Association’ says about Roger Helmer’s defection:-
“The decision of Roger Helmer, the Conservative MEP for the East Midlands, to defect to UKIP, represents a massive boost for Nigel Farage's party. I've known Roger - and worked closely with him - for many years, so can vouch for the fact that he is a politician of conviction,ability and integrity….
If the Conservatives have any sense, they will treat Roger Helmer's defection as a wake up call which may help them stave off a surge in the UKIP vote that could cost them victory at the next General Election....
As well as being a boost to UKIP, the Conservative Party, too, will have reason to thank Roger Helmer, if it will only heed the warning he has given - namely that the patience of Eurosceptic Tories is not limitless. If it fails to listen, many other disillusioned Tories will follow in Roger's footsteps.”
It is often observed that Coalition Government leads to the boundaries between parties blurring and shifting – maybe this is what we are seeing here. If so we may have the development of two Tory parties. The Unionist Eurosceptics and the Liberal Europhiles.
This is what Left Central’s, Tom Bailey, had to say:-
"There has though been a different shift to the political right occurring: the transfer of support from the Conservatives to UKIP, a development that could be of vital importance come 2015. Labour can benefit from this fracture amongst England’s political right much in the same way that the SDP/Liberal/Labour divides in the 1980s aided three successive Thatcher governments. Defection of votes from the Tories to UKIP helped Labour squeeze past in marginal seats in 2010. This effect seems only likely to increase as right-wing dissatisfaction deepens with this government….
The problem for Cameron is that many right-wing voters and politicians see his coalition government as weak on issues of core importance….
Their aims are not being met, dissatisfaction is rumbling ever louder and UKIP’s policies are looking more attractive.
The anger is not about ephemeral issues but ones of vital importance. The anger has been evident amongst the rebellious 2010 intake of Tory backbenchers who, in the words of Conservative Home, are a political ‘generation that cut its political teeth under Margaret Thatcher’. The perceived policy failures are in areas which Thatcher herself prioritised. She called for reduced state spending, rallied against the EU and warned against the UK being ‘swamped’ by immigrants. To many Tory MPs and right-wing commentators, the government continues to spend too much despite the cuts. They believe that the UK remains strangled, both economically and politically, by the EU. Although Cameron’s veto last December had eurosceptics delighted with his leadership, this week’s developments have demonstrated that veto’s non-existence and highlighted the widening chasm between the Tory leadership and the eurosceptic political right. Tory MEP Danniel Hannan complained ‘so now we know: no repatriation, no renegotiation, business as usual. December’s ‘veto’ turns out to be nothing of the kind; at best, it is a partial opt-out.’ Even if the veto had been meaningful, Cameron believes Britain should remain in the EU and supports eurozone fiscal union. Further to the EU problems for Cameron, immigration hit a new peak last year despite a promised reduction to ‘tens of thousands’. EU immigration accounts for almost half of all coming to the UK. As we cannot restrict EU immigration as part of the EU, those opposed to immigration would surely prefer UKIP to the Tories. The coalition government Tory party is not matching the expectations of the eurosceptic, Thatcherite right on these central issues.
The consequence has been that UKIP’s electoral support has been growing considerably. One YouGov poll put their support at 7%, a number familiar to the Lib Dems. This could benefit Labour immensely. If this level of support for UKIP remains in 2015, it could divide the right wing vote in essential, marginal English constituencies. Indeed, Peter Oborne argued that ‘it goes without saying that a Tory leader can never win an election so long as the broader Conservative movement is so painfully split.’ In response to the UKIP challenge, Cameron could shift to the right. However, this seems unlikely. Cameron’s leadership was centred on ‘decontaminating’ the Tory brand. Lord Ashcroft’s research found that this process remains incomplete and was an electoral hindrance in 2010 against winning floating voters. Given the restrictions of a coalition government, it seems unlikely that Cameron could satisfy the discontented eurosceptics. Consequently, the Tories risk haemorrhaging support to UKIP. This development will certainly not win Labour the 2015 election, but it will give Miliband a boost. With eurosceptic papers raging that the present crisis of the euro represents a “’once-in-a-generation’ opportunity to claw back powers from Brussels”, the divides within the Conservative party over the EU in particular are being stretched to breaking point. If there were a major Tory loss of Eurosceptic support, the rise of UKIP could help Labour back into government in 2015."
Now throw into the mix what happens if Scotland then votes for Independence!
This is how the Guardian puts it:-
"But Ukip is aware of one looming irony. For a party with its raison d'etre it knows that Alex Salmond's campaign to break up the UK must be a growing priority. On the conference fringe in Skegness the most heated debate was between those who advocate an England-only parliament to match the devolved assemblies, end the English backlash and save the union – and those who argued fiercely that such a strategy will "do Barroso's job for him" by breaking up Britain."