Saturday, May 04, 2013

Don't Panic, Don't Panic. Over Ukip.

I suppose I might lose my seat in the House of Commons at the next general election if Ukip make even a reasonable surge in Montgomeryshire. Only got a 1200 majority. So I suppose I should be jumping up and down looking for an antidote to the Ukip surge. But strangely I feel very calm about things. The way for my party to counteract Ukip's popularity is to do what we should be doing anyway - listening to them. I'm just thinking of some of the difficult issues for me that Ukip have latched onto.

The first is onshore wind - a massive and divisive issue in mid Wales. While I was not hugely opposed to wind farms before the Welsh Gov't published new planning guidance (Tan8) in 2005, I have been implacably opposed to the Mid Wales Connection Project ever since. The scale of it is breath-takingly horrific. This project has raised public interest in energy policy in Montgomeryshire. Many more people (in my experience) have become pro-nuclear, less anti-fossil fuels (esp shale gas) and more sceptical towards renewable energy in general. This is bang in line with Ukip policy - while I remain in favour of renewables where they are economically sensible and will make a worthwhile difference. So despite my support for protesters against the Mid Wales Connection Project, I could well be 'outflanked' by Ukip. And so could several other Conservative MPs. Desperately hope we can defeat this terrible proposal.

Another issue is 'gay marriage'. Now I didn't want to be drawn into a debate on this issue, and was upset when it was brought before Parliament. I am not in favour of redefining the meaning of marriage, but knew I would be accused of a homophobic attitude simply by voting according to my conscience. I hated the position I was put in - but had the consolation of sensing it was how the majority of my constituents felt. I don't want to make a big song and dance about it. But Ukip will again be quite happy to 'outflank' me with strong rhetoric. Could cost me some votes.

There's a few other issues as well. And then there's Europe. I've always been by nature Eurosceptic. I voted for 'Out' in 1975. I support our policy of renegotiating the terms of our membership of the EU and holding a referendum in 2017 to seek the support of the British people. And if the people vote 'No' I would want the UK to begin the process of withdrawal.  But now we find many wanting a referendum sooner than 2017 - as a response to Thursday's election results. I'm deeply uncomfortable with this - for two reasons. Firstly, I think our policy is correct, and secondly, I don't think Ukip should be writing our policies.  Ukip just want to withdraw, without regard to consequences. I'm expecting this to become a bit of an issue over the next few months.

But perhaps the reason I do not think my party should panic about Ukip's success is that the voters are not daft. When it comes to voting for a Gov't they will look beyond the rhetoric. At the 2015 election, it will be the Coalition parties which can point to a record of taking difficult decisions to restore our public finances, tackling welfare and bringing immigration levels down. And voters will understand that only the Conservative Party will be offering energy policies that protect them from high bills and export of jobs overseas. I try to listen to what the people I want to represent tell me. Its all my party has to do - ensure that the people of Britain believe we are listening to them. That shouldn't be too difficult - and its easier if there's no sense of panic.


Anonymous said...

The big issue here is the economy, of both the UK and the EU.

If voters saw real growth instead of continued constant worry about their real income, job security and so on the UK IP would not be getting protest votes in anything like the numbers we see.

It is very clear to me that we need to put the economy front and center but what are we doing?

There is but anemic growth- exponential rise in job/security type stress - people are nervous and it is affecting their mental well being.

People are getting desperate.

Losing hope.

A thick cloud has descended - a prediction I made some years ago now - but which I deleted from my blog because it was too awful.

But it's coming true...

and its our fault.

We do some really STUPID THINGS.

#1 We award our best hope in exactly the wrong way.

How so?

We have Research people coming up with FANTASTIC inventions and we do what?

We reward them if they publish.

Then we bleed jobs, we bleed industry, we bleed hope.

and still we do it.

Anonymous said...


"...a prediction I made some years ago now" should have read: "a prediction made some years ago now"; call me a religious nut if u like, but I believe God was involved so I should be careful to exclude "I". cw

Anonymous said...

The same sex marriage bill is coming to a third reading this month, then probably to the lords in June. The whole issue could be forgotten with by the end of the summer, unless the far right in the Tory party want to make a big song and dance about it and drag it out until 2015.

Stop moaning about it and get it done quickly. That way by the time 2015 comes along no-one will remember about it and you won't lose any votes over it.