X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Coffee House

Voters hold Ukip to a different standard: there is no point in attacking their people or their policies

29 April 2013

9:36 AM

29 April 2013

9:36 AM

Some of the coverage of the background and views of UKIP local election candidates has been met with a glee born of a belief that it might be the silver bullet to puncture the party’s recent rise in support. I have an intrinsic suspicion that this will prove not to be so.

Last night I was away from news and twitter. Before reading the papers in any detail I sent a tweet saying: ‘Attacking UKIP over policy or people won’t work. Genuinely responding to legitimate concerns of people tempted by them may well do.’ I later read Lord Ashcroft’s perceptive observations that sum up my own views precisely.

To try to tackle UKIP as though they were a conventional aspirant party of Government is, in my own view, to misunderstand what they are about and the motivation of those currently minded to support them.

[Alt-Text]


The only point Michael Ashcroft makes that I take issue with is that UKIP’s leader Nigel Farage is the heir to Nick Clegg.  I think perhaps he is more akin to the heir to Charlie Kennedy. I well remember over seven winters as the Conservative candidate in Eastleigh trying to demolish the absurd Lib Dem assertion that the infamous ‘Penny on Income Tax’ that was promised would lead to a world beating education system, a perfect NHS and milk and honey following down every High Street in the land. The public were not interested for, at that time, they felt of the LibDems as they now view UKIP – they were not going to be the Government. They were judged at a lower standard.

UKIP’s rise is not based on their policy platform (which is intellectually lacking robustness, lazy and in many ways contradictory). Nor is it based on their personnel (other than the cheeky chappy Nigel Farage) who I’m certain falls short of a standard that would be expected by the three main parties. It is based on a frustration of the main parties to tackle some issues in a way a number of the public want them tackled.

Some very bright and good people I know have started supporting UKIP in recent years. I do not regard UKIP supporters as ‘fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists’ although I’m sure they have some unsavoury members.  So has my own party over the years. I view them as people frustrated with welfare, immigration and Europe. The answer to UKIP’s rise is not to attack them but to address head on their legitimate concerns which are widely shared. Iain Duncan Smith is doing just that on welfare and the Prime Minister’s promise of a referendum is another answer to the UKIP dilemma.

If attacking UKIP on detail and people was the answer Nigel Farage would have imploded last week.  He didn’t. He was the guest speaker at the Parliamentary Press Gallery lunch in Parliament. I was there as a guest of a lobby reporter. Farage made an amusing speech in which he gently mocked his own work ethic, his drinking habits, and an extramarital affair. The press laughed indulgently. Before speaking he drank a bottle of red wine over lunch. Imagine had that been the leader of the Labour, Conservative or Lib Dems? They would have been destroyed in the press. Farage was not. Therein lies the futility of attacking them. They are held to a different standard. Much better to address the concerns of their supporters head on. There lies the route to the reunification of the Conservative family.

Conor Burns is Conservative MP for Bournemouth West.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close