Martin Vickers is Member of Parliament for the Cleethorpes Constituency. Follow Martin on Twitter.
Turning the clock back to October 2011, when I was one of the 81 rebels who voted for an In–Out EU referendum, I referred during the debate to having attended a Civic Service the previous day and, even for me, as a confirmed Eurosceptic who voted to leave in 1975, being surprised at what I described as ‘the real people of England’ - because every person I spoke to was urging me to vote for the referendum; I never had any doubts that I would do, so but their support and encouragement spurred me on.
During the weekend after the recent county council elections, I read and listened to more reports and analysis on them than is good for anyone. Then later, in need of some light relief, I settled down to watch the ‘Antiques Roadshow’, and couldn’t help thinking that here again were gathered the ‘real people of England’ – loyal, hardworking and, whatever their voting habits, conservative by nature; many of them would have voted for UKIP – for most of them that would be a first. The challenge for the Conservative Party is to make sure that it’s the last, but with the European elections coming next year that is going to be extremely difficult. Vote for the same party twice running, and it can easily become habit-forming.
My constituency takes in part of North & North East Lincolnshire Unitary Councils who had no elections this year, though in April UKIP secured their second seat in a North East Lincolnshire by-election – both in seats that more often than not return a Tory so on 2nd May. So my centre of attention focussed on the neighbouring Lincolnshire County Council area, where UKIP scored spectacular, but, in the main, predictable gains.
The area around Boston was where the most spectacular gains came. These were the predictable ones, given the levels of immigratin they have experienced in recent years. Large cities can absorb immigrants in a way that small provincial towns can’t. Local public services struggle, resentment grows.