Conservative borough councillor, Stephen Burrell, made the bizarre suggestion on Twitter the other day that UKIP shouldn’t contest elections in Telford because we split their vote and let Labour win.
When challenged, he then went on to say that UKIP has no purpose in local government.
Councillor Burrell’s attitude is common amongst Tories who see UKIP as stealing votes that they have a right to expect. They divide all votes into two: the left wing vote which goes to Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens and the right wing vote that goes to the Conservatives. Anyone who tries to upset this cosy arrangement is in league with the devil. Or Ed Miliband, which is much the same thing.
There is the equally arrogant belief that anyone who doesn’t support either Labour or the Conservatives should cast a “tactical” vote based on who they believe to be the lesser of two evils and that anyone who supports UKIP should consider the Tories to be preferable to Labour. Most UKIPpers hold the Tories and Labour in equal contempt and couldn’t choose between the two.
There is no such thing as a tactical vote: if you vote for someone you don’t want because you don’t want someone else to win then you’ll end up with someone you don’t want. It’s also a lazy assumption that UKIP supporters are disaffected Tories who would consider a Conservative a better proposition than a Labour candidate. There are a great many UKIPpers that have never voted Conservative, that are on the left politically and some who aren’t even eurosceptic! Young Independence (the youth wing of UKIP) is doing particularly well at attracting new members at colleges and universities where they have often never voted before, let alone been members of another party.
UKIP will continue to stand in elections in Telford & Wrekin and elsewhere in the country, whether it means depriving a Conservative of a win or not. We are not a pressure group trying to force a change Tory policy on the EU, we are a political party with a more comprehensive local and national manifesto than the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems that intends to win elections and one day form a government.
There is a simple solution for Councillor Burrell and any of his colleagues that are concerned that UKIP competing for the same votes as the Tories will result in Labour wins – we will happily let Telford & Wrekin Conservatives know which elections we are contesting so they can stand aside.