29/04/2014 Leave a comment
Last week I attended the launch of the Conservative Party European election manifesto in Cambridge and over the coming weeks I shall play my very small part in the election campaign, delivering the election material in my patch, working with Associations across Norfolk and Suffolk as they plan their activity with the European candidates and making sure the literature and our message is delivered across Norfolk and Suffolk.
In my blog posts I have often commented on the rise of UKIP and how as the Conservative Party focuses on the middle the ground in national politics the space has been created for UKIP to gain on the right. I have also said I don’t see UKIP as a racism party but one that perhaps more touches a sentiment in the county about the pace as which our society and high streets are changing as other nationalities establish themselves in our communities, some ’Auf Wiedersehen, Pet’ style working here to send money back home and others coming here to live and raise they families, I have met both hard working cohorts in my division.
At a local level in Suffolk away from European issues, UKIP as a party has established itself and from a party of one in the previous County Council they now have real strength in numbers (3rd largest party on Suffolk County Council) and they seem to be beginning to form local policies positions, i.e. they are maturing. But to my mind for all the frustration I and others feel at the pace of the County Council, it is Conservative values that must win through to protect front line services as this country goes through the necessary financial correction after 13 years of Labour’s fiscal madness. Somebody one said if you cut me in half (and many would like to!) like a stick of Blackpool rock it would say ‘Conservative’ through him and let me be clear, it always will.
Back to the elections at hand, for me UKIP’s articulation is far too simplistic, the world and our place in it, particularly in respect of Europe is far more complex than they would have us believe. I have seen some all of their election material and have heard Nigel Farage in debate and as portrayed in some depth by the various political sketch writers. So as I watched Local Government Secretary of State Eric Pickles MP launch the Conservative manifesto, reading through it you see the gravitas with which the Conservative Party approach the subject. Now I am not saying this will carry the day as I, like most, expect UKIP to have a very good set of elections but only the Conservatives can delivery real change in our relationship with Europe and central to this is that only the Conservatives can deliver a referendum on our membership, whether you are in favour of ‘in’ or ‘out’ the delivery of a referendum will effect meaningful change to our terms and conditions of membership and then let the British people decide in a proper debate about how we see ourselves going forward.