Tory-UKIP pact? We're very different parties

The increasing hysteria of the Conservatives in the face of the UKIP threat is quite something, says this UKIP councillor. But we are two separate parties with our own philosophies, values and manifestos

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UKIP getting closer...
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Donna Rachel Edmunds
On 30 September 2013 09:14

In this week’s (28th September) Spectator, Toby Young writes “a majority Conservative government is the only way you’ll get an in-out EU referendum in the next Parliament. This could be our last chance in a generation – possibly ever – to extract ourselves from the European Superstate.”

Ever, Toby? You mean there will be an EU Superstate not only when our grandchildren are grandparents themselves, but even beyond that? And furthermore, it will still be with us 5,000 years hence? Not even the mighty Roman Empire, which managed to last just over 500 years, could go on forever.

The British Empire lasted a paltry 346 years. Europe is already creaking under the strain of holding together economies as disparate as Germany’s and Greece’s, cultures as different as Sweden’s and Spain’s. I’ll be amazed if my grandmother doesn’t live to see the end of the EU project, or at least Britain’s involvement in it, and she’s in her mid-70s (still going strong).

The increasing hysteria of the Conservatives in the face of the UKIP threat is quite something. I can understand why; it’s not as though we Kippers are relishing the thought of shivering through Miliband’s power cuts either.

But Tories such as Toby must stop badgering UKIP for a pact, official or unofficial. UKIP has not ‘stolen’ votes from the Conservatives or anyone else – the other parties never ‘owned’ those votes in the first place. We are not, as Andrew Mitchell suggests, cousins.

There may have been a time when that claim had some validity, but I now find myself talking to just as many disaffected Labour voters who have seen through their leadership’s claims to be the party of working people as I do to ex-Tories. No, we are two separate parties with our own philosophies, values and manifestos.

Just a few examples: Our whole membership, from our leader and executive board to each and every activist and member, believes that we would be better off out of the EU and would vote to leave. Mr Cameron and many of his MPs think we need the EU, and that we can renegotiate a better deal. They would vote to stay in.

UKIP would bring back grammar schools so that every bright child has the opportunity to make the most of their talents, and to get to the top of their chosen field. The Conservatives would not and are not.

The Conservatives will be talking up tax cuts as an alternative to Labour’s solutions to the cost of living crisis, but what has been their record on tax cuts? The increase of the personal allowance to £10,000 was a Liberal Democrat policy(!), and despite it, the tax bill for the poorest has increased during this government.

VAT, a tax which disproportionately affects the less well off, was raised at the beginning of this government and has not been lowered. Petrol duty has been frozen, but tax still accounts for 60 percent of the cost of petrol at the pumps.

Conversely, UKIP resolutely believes that a low tax economy is a thriving, wealth creating economy. UKIP advocates a flat tax policy – a different form of ‘fairness’ to that on offer by either Conservatives, Labour or the Liberals (since when was forcefully taking from one person and giving to another ‘fair’?).

And one last example, UKIP believes in honouring this country’s Judeo-Christian heritage, and also in respecting people’s rights to their own religious beliefs. Therefore we support civil partnerships as a way of making society fairer, but cannot support gay marriage.

When I was a Conservative, I and my colleagues would occasionally wonder whether the European question would split the party. Now I’m in UKIP, I can see that it already has. What I can’t fathom is why any Conservative that holds dear the values of equality of opportunity, rewarding hard work, and expecting citizens to take responsibility for their own lives would remain in a party that has abandoned that ethos, when another party exists to promote it.

I’ll be speaking on a panel in the Freedom Zone at Conservative Party conference tomorrow (Tuesday) entitled “Tories and UKIP – why I left v’s why I stayed” (1.30pm at the Bridgewater Hall, if you’re in town). Perhaps I’ll ask the Conservative panellists exactly that.

Donna Edmunds is a UKIP councillor. Follow her on @DonnaInSussex

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