I’ve been a conservative for as long as I can remember. For much of that time I was a Conservative too – the two are now so intrinsically different. The former believes in low taxes and personal liberty while the latter would rather appeal to floating voters by rushing through gay marriage (an issue that could have been sorted in due course) instead of clearing the deficit and tackling the debt.
It filled me with no joy to see David Cameron, a man who has betrayed trust and broken promises waltz back in to 10 Downing Street under a party banner he has never shown much commitment to. The Polly Toynbees of this world may liken him to Thatcher but Dave is no Maggie. I’m not sure anyone really knows what he believes in, barring his out-and-proud fetish for the European Union.
We hear of cuts. But where have the cuts come? Foreign aid is still costing £1bn a month, our EU membership continues to rape the tax-payers wallet to the tune of £60m a day and the supposed bonfire of the quangos – something that was proposed first time around – has not come to fruition. While I support a limited welfare state I most certainly do not endorse cuts anywhere until these such measures have been taken first. And quite why the general public have not latched onto the concept that huge quantities of money could be saved here I have no answer. Such a strategy would surely leave more expenditure for the public services this country romanticises over?
But that will not happen. Cuts to the most vulnerable will be made without reducing the substantial tax burden significantly. Indeed, if the state stops providing then what reason do they have to take such rates of tax? None.
Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party chickened out of offering a libertarian alternative to the British people but I was desperately sad not to see him elected in South Thanet. A shoddy, but vitriolic campaign was fought against him and eventually the people of Kent succumbed to fear and lies. The Scottish National Party proved to be the Tories greatest weapon to claw voters back from the purple, while others were misled that Farage was either a banker, a racist or both.
Farage has championed the EU exit cause for two decades, the past few years has finally seen him, and his party, rise to national attention. Perhaps he should have contested the Eastleigh by-election in 2013. Perhaps the party should have pushed harder in the Heywood and Middleton by-election last year. And perhaps focus shouldn’t have been so intense on immigration. They have got things wrong, and a solitary seat would have shocked many considering the wave of momentum they held when Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless were returned to the green benches as UKIP MPs last autumn. But one seat for almost four million votes is not a true reflection of the party’s growth across the country. If we were in Sweden, we would currently be left either euphoric or in turmoil at the fact UKIP had become the third-largest party in the House of Commons, as the Sweden Democrats – their EU-allies – did in the Riksdag in 2014.
For now, Farage has stepped down as leader of the party. He may – and I hope sincerely that he does – have a significant role to play in UKIP and in a potential EU referendum over the coming parliament. No Eurosceptic can truly trust Cameron on the Brussels question. It is clear that he will never campaign to leave under any circumstances, like Blair, he is far too invested into it. Renegotiation on core issues such as freedom of movement are impossible, and a fudged question would not come as a shock either. While UKIP MPs cannot hold the PM’s “feet to the fire” his pro-exit backbenchers can and must. With such a slender majority another Major-esque “back me or sack me” play may come about; they have got to be prepared to sack him.
On electoral reform, UKIP and the Greens – the two biggest sufferers of First Past The Post – need to form an uncomfortable alliance, to exert pressure from Left and Right. Under Proportional Representation, the combined five million votes would have translated into over 100 seats. Instead, they were left with two. The insurgent parties must accept that reform has to be at the top of their respective agendas, for they cannot make any real impact without it.
That Cameron’s majority is so wafer-thin gives hope that the rebellious in is clan can cause him nightmares and leave him no option but to make Euroscepticism a part of party ideology once more. However, I, and the other four million who voted UKIP, were in search of something far more promising than that.