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Those Tories backing Nigel Farage in Buckingham are being drawn into a stunt orchestrated by our political opponents

Picture 2Having been off duty as the story broke and developed during Thursday and Friday, I am only now getting round to commenting on the decision by Nigel Farage MEP to challenge the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, at the next general election.

As Tim predicted would be the case in his first post on the subject, I cannot sympathise with Conservatives stating they would be tempted to vote UKIP in Buckingham.

And whilst I am reassured that the Conservative Party will, rightly, support the candidacy of the Speaker seeking re-election, as is the convention, I was wholly disheartened by the result of our snap poll yesterday which showed nearly two thirds of Conservatives saying they would vote for Nigel Farage if they lived in Buckingham.

In so doing they are giving succour to a rival political party, which is actively seeking to win votes in constituencies across the country, thereby seeking to prevent the election of a Conservative Government.

And as much as many Conservatives may sympathise with UKIP's raison d'être - i.e. to seek withdrawal from the EU - doing anything to promote that party at a vital general election for this country, even in the one constituency where no-one is donning a Conservative rosette, is to be complicit in an irresponsible distraction from the main matter of getting David Cameron into Downing Street.

My backing for John Bercow's Speakership is well known and on the record. I understand him to be a pretty assiduous constituency MP and I imagine his record of work in Buckingham alone will ensure that he is returned as "The Speaker seeking re-election" at the general election with a suitably healthy majority.

But whilst any individual is clearly free to fight any constituency in the land, I feel that Nigel Farage's justification for wanting to fight Buckingham on the grounds that the sitting MP is "not a Conservative" is patently unfair. Of course he's not a Conservative, in the same way that Michael Martin and Betty Boothroyd before him were not Labour when seeking re-election to the Commons once ensconced as Speaker: the role requires its holder to withdraw from party politics - and rightly so.

John Bercow was elected Speaker in the Commons fairly and squarely and those Conservatives who did not support him but insist on continuing a campaign of hostility should stop the carping now. By speaking out in favour of Nigel Farage's candidacy - mainly to settle old scores against John Bercow - they are allowing themselves to be drawn into a stunt being undertaken by our political opponents.

I hope they will see that and I certainly trust that none would think for a moment of actively assisting the Farage campaign. Because any Conservative who were to help the UKIP campaign in Buckingham would be showing disloyalty to the Conservative Party, not least by letting down Conservative candidates in nearby Milton Keynes and Luton where we need to gain seats from Labour in order to win the general election.

Jonathan Isaby


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