Senior Tory Lord Deben attributes Ukip success to Labour’s failure
Lack of an appealing alternative will lead to protest voting in European elections, says peer, formerly John Selwyn Gummer.
The UK Independence Party owes its success to the failure of the Labour party to offer an “appealing alternative”, according to a senior British Conservative.
Lord Deben, who as John Selwyn Gummer served under prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major, told the Guardian that voters who were at odds with the current coalition felt they had nowhere else to turn. Voters wishing to register a “protest vote” might normally opt for the opposition, but with the Liberal Democrats in government, they faced a choice between Ukip and Labour and Ed Miliband had failed to offer an argument sufficiently tempting.
“There are people who would normally turn to an alternative, which is Labour, who are clearly not seeing an alternative that is very attractive,” he said. “The traditional alternative of Labour is not attracting people. People want to protest. And the number of people [planning to vote for Ukip] is what happens.”
If Ukip should win a large share of the vote on Thursday, Tories should resist any temptation to turn towards its policies, he said, and should talk about the benefits of being in Europe and of taking an “international” and “moderate” view on important issues, from the economy to the environment. “Moderation is not as exciting in politics as extremism,” he warned.
Deben, who is chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, laid into Ukip for what he called “a fundamental lack of generosity, a lack of solutions, a lack of willingness to understand” the complexities of governing. He called Nigel Farage “ungenerous and unpleasant” over his remarks on concern if Romanian men moved in next door. “He did not say that because he was tired [as Farage has claimed] but because that revealed what he really thinks.”