I have just been watching Marr on BBC1 and there appears to me to be a theme developing.
In the paper review, Trevor Phillips said the rise of UKIP was really about voters´ perception that “Westminster politicians” were not listening to their constituents. He also suggested immigration is not the real issue for many British people but fear of change. He claims that rapid change is unsettling for people and a party that represents the past like UKIP is understandably popular. I guess a progressive, forward thinking and radical party like ours might be unpopular for the same reason.
Next up is Douglas Carswell, former Tory, now a UKIP, MP. He talks like a Lib Dem. He is clearly a dedicated constituency MP, just like a Lib Dem, who does not take his constituents for granted, just like a Lib Dem, and he sees representing his constituency as far more important than what happens at Westminster. He appeared to me to be so unlike a Tory MP or a Labour MP in a safe seat and so like a Lib Dem.
It reminded me of campaigning in the 2012 London Mayoral election in Worcester Park where Paul Burstow is the local MP. It was in the midst of the NHS reorganisation debate, when my colleague Shirley Williams was leading the Lib Dem revolt against the Coalition Government proposals which resulted in a withdrawal and a rethink. With tuition fees still hanging around our necks and the unpopularity of the NHS reforms, a couple on the doorstep explained that they would never vote Lib Dem again “… but we´ll be voting for Paul Burstow because he’s a great local MP”. At that time, Paul was a Liberal Democrat Coalition government minister in the Department of Health.
I found it a little puzzling that UKIP, a right-wing party, not only won the Clacton by-election but they also reduced the Labour majority from 6,000 to 600 in Heywood and Middleton. But not so puzzling if the reason is not their policies but a reaction against MPs who take their constituents for granted.
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