“I Just Want to Feel Like Someone’s On My Side”

I asked some collegues, mainly conservative (small ‘c’) what they wanted. These are wealthy people who’ve been hit hard by the tax-rises of the coalition. They’re thinking of voting UKIP. This is exactly the same rhetoric you get from the benefits recipient, like my Twitter correspondent Kaliya who tweets at @bendygirl and blogs at Benefit Scrounging Scum People, from the top 50%/45% payers to the benefits recipients, are simply fed up of paying the bills for others’ failure.

The who the “others” who’ve “failed” are varies of course. But the fact is we all failed. We all got used to spending money we didn’t have on houses that were too expensive. We all enjoyed benefits we’d not paid for, Government, the people, all thought the living standards we’d got used to in 2008 were real. Bankers bet that house-prices would keep going up, and regulators let ’em, because they believed it too. Egging all this on, were politicians, keen to spend the taxes of the Bankers’ profits, and ride the goodwill an asset price-bubble created. We are now suffering the hangover from the party. Everyone’s realised the party was on a ‘school night’, and they’re scowling on the way to work.

Every class of people is having its living standards squeezed, apart from the super-rich who face no significant constraints even if there are fewer ‘0’s at the end of the pay-cheque. Unfortunately for Cameron, he is super-rich. But other than them, we are “all in this together”. The entire country is tightening its belt and grumbling, looking for someone to blame.

Which brings us to protest votes. Liberal Democrats are generally good at the Council stuff. They run a good ground campaign, follow up complaints well and therefore they’re good at getting a local following. As a result they’re harder to shift than herpes. Their main attraction outside the hyper-local is the ability their voters  enjoyed to say “don’t blame me, I voted Liberal Democrat” at dinner parties. Going into coalition meant these people need to vote for someone else.

Conservatives, as the natural party of Government struggle to win when people are pissed off. The Tories are in Government so when the economy’s flat-lining it’s always going to be a difficult sell. Furthermore, Tories in 2009, the last time these seats were up for grabs, swept the board. It’s nearly mathematically impossible for them to go anywhere but down from then. With that in mind, the kicking the Tories got yesterday was natural, expected and nothing to panic about.

Labour barely did better than when they were in Government, during the biggest crash in history, while they were led by Jonah Gordon Fuckwit Brown McDoom. Ed Miliband is a hopeless liability. If the party was a horse, it would have a black curtain round it now and a vet would be striding towards it with a grim expression and a long-cased object.

Which brings us to UKIP. The fact that the protest votes are going to a party which, when it thinks about grown-up things like deficits seems to be in favour of “further and faster” cuts, and Tax-Cuts now should embolden Tories. The British People are sending a message. “We’re pissed off. But we also know austerity’s necessary” They are sending a message that they’d really rather no Romanians emigrate here. But mainly that they’re pissed off.

The Tories can do one of two things. Panic and Guarantee a loss at the next election. Or knuckle down and still stand a chance of winning if, (and of course it remains a big ‘if’) the economy recovers in time. 8% behind in the polls, when most of the votes lost since the election have gone to a protest party which mainly aggrees with you is not so bad. There’s no message the Conservatives should send that they aren’t already doing.

Apart from Gay Marriage (which is UKIP’s biggest driver of support), there’s nothing the Tories aren’t doing that UKIP want. There’s a referendum promise on the EU, and possibly legislation this parliament. Immigration’s being cut, Benefits are being capped, the public-sector’s being cut, and markets are being introduced in the NHS and Education. This UKIP talk of “abandoning Conservative values” is nonsense. Unless you weight Gay Marriage very, very highly. And that’s the thing. UKIP had a chance to be “libertarian” and they blew it by preferring (rightly, as it turned out) to hoover up angry, bigoted, gay-hating conservatives of whom there’s a surprising number.

It’s Gay Marriage (and it seems Gay Marriage alone) which broke Cameron from Tory England. Every other pro-gay measure from legalising homosexuality to legalising homosexuals serving in the military, to Civil Partnerships has faced red-faced harrumphing from the shires. They just didn’t have a party back then. This will pass, as it always has. The UKIPasm will fade, probably starting from their high-water mark at next-years Euro elections. The red-faced saloon bar bore will start to drift back to the Conservative party, as the prospect of Miliband as prime-minister becomes closer.

UKIP want Conservatism but MORE! and FASTER! (But with FEWER GAYS). It’s Labour who need to panic, not the Conservatives. They’ve lost the country.

17 replies
  1. @parlow72
    @parlow72 says:

    While I agree with the main thrust of the argument I think that you're overplaying the importance of gay marriage as a source of UKIP votes. While it is undoubtably one issue that has been used to differentiate UKIP (wrongheadedly in my opinion), from talking to others the thing that is driving people away from the Conservatives is David Cameron. He is seen as someone who isn't inclusive of others who dont have his background, the so called Chumocracy in Downing Street is a source of complaint for MPs and this has filtered down to to the electorate. The political class is a party to which the rest of the electorate will never be invited.

    This is why there is support for Nigle Farage and to a lesser extent Boris (both public school boys). You could see yourself in the pub getting drunk with either of them.

    If Cameron is to win in 2015 he is going to need to be seen to be much more inclusive of those in his own party and to worry less about appealing to the focus groups of Islington and Notting Hill

  2. Simon Jester
    Simon Jester says:

    "Apart from Gay Marriage (which is UKIP's biggest driver of support), there's nothing the Tories aren't doing that UKIP want."

    Umm, no. I'm (moderately) pro-Gay Marriage, and I'd still vote UKIP.

    "There's a referendum promise on the EU,"

    And we all know how much Mr. Cameron's promises are worth.

    "and possibly legislation this parliament."

    Only if you mean "possibly" in the same sense as "I may possibly bonk Christina Hendricks".

    "Immigration's being cut,"

    Not so you'd notice.

    "Benefits are being capped,"

    There's a lot of talk about it…

    "the public-sector's being cut"

    No; it's growing more slowly than it was, but then the government has more-or-less run out of other people's money.

    "markets are being introduced in the NHS and Education."

    Just as Ken Clarke introduced markets to the NHS about 20 years ago?

    Blah, blah, gay-hating, blah…

    You really don't think the whole "let's leave the EU" thing is relevant?

  3. Gregster
    Gregster says:

    If Conservatives offered an amendment to the smoking ban, they could pick up a lot of votes going to Ukip today. Salford would almosty turn blue overnight! Nanny state policies are very disliked by working class Labour supporters too. Conservatives came in promising an end to the nanny state but proposed raising the cost of drink and putting ugly pictures on fags, the rise of Ukip accelerated after that.
    It's one element which has been overlooked by the BBC but is very real.

  4. Devil's Kitchen
    Devil's Kitchen says:


    Yes, I get the thrust of your argument, but I think that your assessment of UKIP's policies leaves rather a lot to be desired.

    First, the British people are worried about a particular sort of immigrant—those that they see as "foreign". This is a loose term, but essentially includes people who don't speak English—almost nobody that I have spoken to has any problem with New Zealand, Australian or US immigrants, for instance.

    UKIP can pledge to target the immigrants that people fear because their policy is to leave the EU: the Tories cannot do the same because, even with the promise of the referendum—which will only happen if the Tories are re-elected with a majority and if Mars is in the House of Ares when a pig flies across the Thames in a dirigible, or something—their stated position is that they think we should stay in.

    Second, UKIP believe that lower taxes will bring higher growth—not surprising when you consider that their fiscal policy was largely written by Tim Worstall (with contributions from other libertarian/minarchist bloggers). The Coalition is shifting the burden of tax away from the poor (good) but not actually changing the total tax take (bad).

    UKIP also have a credible energy policy (again, much of it originally drafted by libertarian/minarchist bloggers (hem hem)): whilst most people may not realise that we are in severe danger of rolling power cuts next year, they do understand that their energy bills have soared. UKIP have a credible answer for this—the government should stop artificially forcing up energy prices.

    Unfortunately, much of the legislation doing so come from the EU (although successive governments of the last 20 years have added their own price-raising policies too—Osbourne's carbon floor price, for instance, is utterly, industry-fuckingly insane).

    There are quite a few other differences too; however, one of them is that people can see themselves having a drink and a bit of a giggle with Nigel Farage.

    And that's not simply because he likes to be interviewed in pubs; it is because he comes across as a guy who enjoys himself, and who genuinely thinks that the people of Britain should, in the end, also enjoy themselves.

    This philosophy is miles away from the pinch-faced, high-voiced, bigoted, boring, public-health fascists and shrieking snobs of the Islington set—of which Cameron is perceived to be a member (alongside most other politicians).


  5. John Galt
    John Galt says:

    Sorry, but I think you are wide of the mark on UKIP's main support coming because of Gay Marriage.

    Personally, I believe it comes from a number of things:

    1. Given that David Cameron has returned to the "One Nation Conservatism" that was so successful for Ted Heath, a lot of Conservatives from the Right Wing have felt themselves to be aliens in their own party. For this reason they have left and gone to UKIP.

    2. David Cameron's policies on Europe may be appropriate for the circumstances, but a lot of his own party think a referendum on Europe is past due. There is a public perception (even if technically incorrect as it was in the 2009 manifesto, but not the 2010 one) that Cameron has already defaulted on his commitment to an EU referendum. They view commitments for a referendum after the Conservatives win the next election as just more lies.

    3. UKIP might be a party of Golf Club bores, but they are finding a constituency, even if it is just a constituency of the deluded.

    4. Parties of protest usually dissolve once the issue at hand is absorbed within the policies of the other main parties. Since all 3 of the main parties are pushing the same Multiculti, pro-EU hogwash, UKIP is seen as the only alternative.

    5. Since all 3 main parties are pro-EU, by definition they are unable to do anything about the free movement of people from ascension countries, especially Romania and Bulgaria. Whom most UKIP supporters would probably characterise as Gypo's and thieves.

    Speaking as a faggot who is so far in the closet that I can see Mr. Tumnus' house – Gay Marriage might be an issue for some UKIP supporters, but it is a small minority.

  6. Luke
    Luke says:

    A query rather than a comment. Was the, say, 2005-10 spending and growth a debt fuelled bubble that could not be sustained? I have no idea, but my gut reaction is that your miserabilist, pessimistic, frankly socialist view is wrong. I can't back this up. Don't mean to be personal, I just wonder.

  7. Simon Jester
    Simon Jester says:

    @Luke: "Was the, say, 2005-10 spending and growth a debt fuelled bubble that could not be sustained?"

    Not sure who your query was aimed at, but yes: it was a bubble, it was debt-fuelled and it couldn't be sustained.

    Now a question for you, Luke: why do you consider such a view to be "frankly socialist"?

    • Luke
      Luke says:

      I have doubts about your conclusion. But in answer to your fair question, because, as a good capitalist, I believe that most of the time free markets are pretty efficient and I see no reason to believe the noughties was a dramatic exception (maybe I didn't choose the best period – 2000-2007??).

      I feel you and our host are falling into the miserabilist left fallacy of thinking that if we are having a good time that is a problem, not something to be celebrated. See Simon Wren-Lewis, unlike me a proper economist, who comes up with the unsurprising conclusion that Brown should have been a bit tighter, but did not cause the global financial crisis.

  8. Andrew Hunt
    Andrew Hunt says:

    You are wrong about gay marriage. Consider where UKIP had great success, Boston in Lincs and Wisbech in Cambs. Walk around these two towns and you will hear a lot of foreign voices, read the local newspapers crime reports and notice the foreign sounding names.

    Immigration explains the tory meltdown much more than homosexual nuptials.

  9. Luke
    Luke says:

    "Walk around these two towns and you will hear a lot of foreign voices, read the local newspapers crime reports and notice the foreign sounding names."

    Unlike London, where everyone you meet is a WASP? (Irony alert) isn't age a major factor in Ukip support? And probably Boston is not a hot bed of youth, which is why they need young immigrants to do stuff the oldies can't do anymore.

    • Luke
      Luke says:

      Simon, in comparison to the 1945-2000 period, pretty much. Also, if it was a debt fuelled bubble, why was there limited inflation and zero wage growth?

      Compare and contrast Spain and Ireland. In both cases, it is at least arguable that they used debt to build houses no one really wanted . In the UK, we didn't build any houses.

  10. Simon Jester
    Simon Jester says:

    @Luke: 1945-1980 would be arguable, 1980-2000 – no. Just no.

    Limited inflation? Note the switch to CPI instead of RPI. Zero wage growth? No.

    • Luke
      Luke says:

      Simon, back up your assertions.

      What part of the Thatcher privatisations were undone in 2000-2010? How was the UK less free market? Give me some figures for RPI in 1980-2000 in comparison to 2000-2010. Give me some wage figures.

      In short, come up with something better than "Labour bad, Maggie good." You might have a point, but you haven't made it.

  11. Luke
    Luke says:

    Simon, admittedly a bit lazy, a secondary source:


    But I make RPI 4.96% on average for 1980 -2000 inclusive and 2.28% for 2000-2010. May be unfair to include 1980, but no obvious runaway inflation in, say, 2000-2007. Lower in every year post 2000 than average under your idol, under whom there were a couple of recessions.

    Wages –

    Down in real terms since 2000. Not a perfect fit I concede, since it is 2000-2012. But hardly supports galloping wage inflation in 2000-7. God knows what the effect of leaving bankers out would be. I suspect it would bring the figure down.


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