Tories looking increasingly out of touch.
During a time of increasing unemployment and people still struggling to pay the bills, you’d think that sorting this problem would be the priority of the Conservatives.
However, the reality is somewehat different.
Yesterday, grassroot Conservatives made a special trip to Downing Street to deliver a letter to David Cameron. The letter, signed by current and former local party chairmen, was not to urge Cameron to change his economic policy which is adversely affecting people throughout the country. It wasn’t to highlight that more and more people are being forced to use foodbanks. No, the priority for this group of Conservative campaigners was to tell their leader to abandon support for same sex marriage.
Perhaps then we might see Cameron’s backbenchers and cabinet members make living standards the priority for this government. Er, no. Because Tory MP’s have decided that they want to immerse themselves in a self obsessed, self indulgent row over EU membership.
The economic problems the country faces have found the Tories out. With people still struggling to meet the financial demands of everyday living, rather than looking outwards to address the problems people face, the Conservatives have decided to look inwards to address their own ideologies. This has resulted in a party which looks distant from the everyday problems people face. Furthermore, the Tories look more divided than ever with PM who looks too weak to even keep his own party together.
Consequently, this raises questions about the future for the Tories. A party with members who want to focus on a same sex marriage u-turn rather than jobs. A party which wants to talk about the EU rather than poverty. A party so divided that some are talking about a pact with Ukip. A party who’s divisions fail to inspire confidence and a party which is looking increasingly out of touch with the majority of the country.
Say Ukip and you will probably think of two things – the EU and immigration. If you vote for Ukip, then the likelihood is you want to leave the EU and want to see an end to so called open door immigration into the UK. Yesterday’s voting would suggest that those two issues are important for a lot of people in England.
Farage could struggle to convince Ukip voters in 2015
It might then surprise a lot of Ukip voters to learn the immigration policy of the party. Yesterday during an interview with the BBC, Ukip’s spokesman confirmed what it says on the party’s website, namely, that their immigration policy is under review. He also added that their target of a 50,000 yearly limit on immigration would be too low with businesses within Britain urging them to double that figure. In short, even Ukip recognise that workers coming in from both within the EU and outside of it are vital for the UK economy.
So what did Ukip voters vote for yesterday? What do Ukip really stand for? Their immigration policy looks no different to David Cameron’s, who promised to get immigration numbers down to tens of thousands while remaining within the EU. So it’s hard to see what leaving the EU would even achieve for Farage and his party, given Cameron sounds equally as tough on immigration yet supports continued EU UK membership. Ed Miliband has said Labour made mistakes on immigration and the Lib Dems appear to be coming out against the levels of immigration we have seen in recent years.
As a result, one of Ukip’s main policies looks now to be very unclear. The party which prides itself on offering something different to the traditional big three looks increasingly similar. And if the majority of the UK aren’t anti-EU but anti-EU immigration, their argument for pulling out of the European Union seems pointless.
And that leaves a big hole for Ukip. Their policies elsewhere on a flat rate of tax, for example, will struggle to convince people. They are yet to discuss in detail what they will do with the NHS and education. If Ukip can’t win those arguments then they will struggle in the next general election. And if they can’t even convince people that they are the party who can control immigration, it will leave people asking just who Ukip are.
After yesterdays comments regarding pensioner’s benefits from Iain Duncan Smith, it seems he’s had a change of heart or perhaps even a loss of memory.
Photo: Brian Minkoff
For an interview in the Sunday Telegraph, the work and pensions secretary was asked about benefit payments to wealthy pensioners. Duncan Smith, who earns over £130,000 from his government job, lives in a £2 million home and is reported to have claimed expenses for expensive breakfasts, suggested welathier pensioners could pay their benefits back, quoted as saying: “It is up to them, if they don’t want it, to hand it back. I would encourage everybody who reads the Telegraph and doesn’t need it, to hand it back.”
However, what a difference a day makes. This morning during an interview with the BBC, Mr Duncan Smith said on whether pensioners should hand back their benefits: “I’m neither encouraging or discouraging them”.