Edward Leigh is MP for Gainsborough
Not only has the membership declined precipitously – losing more than half our members since 2005 – but there is a worrying exodus of party activists. While we are on top in 2009’s European election, the most recent opinion poll for next year’s vote gives UKIP a 4% lead over Labour, with our party relegated to third.
Clearly UKIP do not have a chance of forming the next government, but it’s obvious that voters will use the European elections to deliver a message to the Tory party, and to the country. This isn’t just about our relationship with Europe, but is an expression of the profound alienation that former core Tory voters now feel towards the party they once supported.
It’s obvious we need to look at the situation with clear eyes and find appropriate solutions.
First, we need to dump a whole raft of policies. I refer to the ones which are not merely rubbish to begin with, but doubly daft for being unpopular with voters – Tory or otherwise.
I have long been a passionate advocate of strong and effective spending on Britain’s overseas aid budget, but we need to tear up the 0.7% commitment of GDP. Not only is it entirely arbitrary, but it decreases when the economy is poorer, even though this is when developing countries are even more likely to need our help and assistance.