Former Tory parliamentary candidate Ashley Gray explains why he’ll be breaking the habit of a lifetime and backing UKIP in the European elections next month
It’s election time but you would never know it. In little over a month’s time Britain will go to the polls in the ‘secret election’. The election the political establishments do not want you to know about.
On Thursday, May 22, we can all exercise our right to vote in the 2014 European Elections. The Labour and Conservative parties seem to have nothing to say on Europe at all. The home page of their websites makes no mention of May’s Euro elections whatsoever. So perhaps the political elite will turn a blind eye when like many Conservatives, I am prepared to break the habit of a lifetime and lend my vote to UKIP.
I do not agree with UKIP on everything, nor do I wish to be governed by them but Nigel Farage has at least earned my vote by leading the argument and standing up for traditional values, values the Conservatives seem to have forgotten. It is little wonder many Tories do not feel at home in the current party.
Ronald Reagan observed when he left the Democrats to join the Republican Party: “I did not leave my party, my party left me”. A feeling that many Conservatives will share.
On returning power to the UK, on protecting our borders, rebuilding prosperity, safeguards against crime, on health, energy, the environment, a vote for UKIP at the approaching European elections is the antidote to political correctness and a justifiable protest in 2014. One in the eye for the cosy coalition that might at last wake them up to fight for and earn our vote in 2015.
The vacuum of ideas has woken many Conservatives to the fact that the leadership of the party had not earned our vote. The party seems more in tune with the politics of Peter Tatchell than Margaret Thatcher. Indeed the political leaders of the three main parties seem almost completely interchangeable in language, attitude and policies.
To paraphrase Orwell’s Animal Farm: ‘From the outside when you look from Conservative to Liberal and from Liberal to Labour and from Labour to Conservative it is almost impossible to say which is which.’
At least Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage have the courage to tackle the subject. The recent radio and TV debates exposed the vast gap between political establishment and the public mood. Nick Clegg's arguments were reminiscent of his woeful case in the referendum on proportional representation. If post-debate polls are to be believed, never in the field of contemporary politics has a politician been so out of touch.
For a serving Deputy Prime Minister to be so remote from his country's desires and interests is condemnation indeed. To lose one referendum by a landslide could be considered a blip, but two? Nick Clegg in defending the European Union was the master of the ‘dangerous con’ yet the only one he seems to have conned was himself. But at least he is putting an argument.
The aloof and cowardly attitude of Labour and the Conservatives to May’s European elections shows a remarkable lack of courage when it comes to Europe. Had British governments of the past had the courage to insist on national referendums prior to treaty changes our national interest would have been better served. With the Maastricht Treaty, John Major put European interests first and sacrificed his party and country for the greater European ideal. The current political leaders seem to wish to close their collective eyes and hope for the best.
The bogus referendum offered by the Conservative Party leadership is a bluff and a sop to those who wish to leave the EU altogether. Something many of us do not want.
David Davies and John Redwood rightly argue for a referendum that would give the United Kingdom teeth to negotiate a new role in Europe. A ‘mandate referendum’ that would at last allow us to support a Common Market and reject a single European State. The Tory leadership foolishly rejected this option. It would after all have taken political courage to support it.
None of this would be necessary if our political masters had the courage to defend our national interest with the same vigour as Mr Farage. Indeed, having Nigel Farage at the table during European Treaty negotiations would certainly be a bracing breath of fresh air.
Not since the days of Margaret Thatcher has a politician of principle been prepared to lead public opinion rather than follow it. This puts Nigel Farage in a unique and refreshing position in contemporary British politics. It is the very fact that he is prepared to challenge the status quo and is not afraid to be proud of tradition and make a stand that sets him apart.
His ability to defend the national interest and look beyond ‘little’ over-regulated Europe to Britain’s role on the world stage makes him a genuine ‘new European’. Love him or hate him, in every sense he has shown the courage and tenacity to earn our vote.
Twenty years ago John Major sought to wrap his disastrous Maastricht Treaty in the spirit of old England evoking long shadows on county grounds and warm beer. No doubt today he would find Mr Farage on the boundary with pint in hand preparing to bowl a googly at the political establishment. Let battle commence.
Ashley Gray was a Conservative party ‘A’ list parliamentary candidate for 2010 elections, parliamentary candidate for South East Cornwall 2001, 2005, Conservative Central Office SW Media Officer for Euro elections in 1999, 2004, and Somerset county councillor 1997-2001