Jackie Doyle-Price MP: My pro-UKIP MP colleagues should join Farage - or shut up
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.
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 in Thurrock?
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.