Conservative MP Stewart Jackson: I'm at one with UKIP

 Peterborough's Conservative MP Stewart Jackson Raising eyebrows: Peterborough's Conservative MP Stewart Jackson

A guest speaker at a branch meeting of the UK Independence Party has heaped praise on the party's policies; what raised eyebrows is that the compliments came courtesy of Peterborough's Conservative MP Stewart Jackson.

The MP, who has warned the Tories that they face a threat from UKIP, told the meeting in Cambridgeshire he had no plans to defect but that he agreed with everything they stood for.

"I'm at one with UKIP," he told them and admitted that when he saw some of their election material earlier this year he "actually agreed with everything on the leaflet".

He said he thought his party leader had been disrespectful and used "pathetic language" when he called UKIP a party of closet racists in 2008.

However, he maintained that he had no plans to join UKIP: "I believe I can do more within the Conservative Party to advance the cause of Euro-scepticism."

Start Quote

UKIP has the capacity to do substantial damage to the Conservative vote”

End Quote Stewart Jackson MP Conservative, Peterborough

Within days, Mr Jackson appears on the BBC's World at One supporting calls from the Conservative Vice-Chairman, Michael Fabricant, for a pact with UKIP.

"UKIP has the capacity to do substantial damage to the Conservative vote," Mr Jackson said. "I think it's incumbent on David Cameron to show real leadership and promise an in/out referendum. This would unite the right."

The threat from UKIP

Mr Jackson has every reason to be concerned about UKIP. At the last general election he had a majority of 4,800, while UKIP polled 3,000 votes. If the polls remain the way they are and Liberal Democrat supporters keep defecting to Labour, combined with a growing UKIP vote by disaffected Tories, it could make all the difference to whether he keeps his seat or loses it to Labour.

There is a real debate going on about UKIP among Conservative Party members in the eastern region. The fear is not that UKIP will win seats, but that it will take votes away from the Tories and in doing so, cost them MPs.

In Waveney, Peter Aldous has a majority of 769. Last time round UKIP polled 2,600. In Norwich North, where Chloe Smith (majority almost 4,000) could face a very tough fight next time round - UKIP got 1,800 votes in 2010.

In Great Yarmouth, Brandon Lewis has a majority of just over 4,000, UKIP - which is campaigning hard there and already has a local councillor - polled 2,000 votes at the last election. That's to name but a few.

One of our MPs privately admitted to us last week that they were expecting to lose their seat at the next election.

"I have to be realistic. The Lib Dem vote is collapsing and UKIP support is growing, how can I expect to hold on?"

Growth in support

UKIP won two seats in our region during the last European elections and has a handful of local councillors in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. At Corby they polled their best ever by-election result.

"The Corby by-election result demonstrates even more starkly the real support that UKIP can harness," said Michael Fabricant in his report on the growing strength of UKIP.

"In the 2010 general election, UKIP did not stand in the seat, yet gained 14.3% of the vote just two years on. It was clear that the coalition took a mid-term kicking, however the UKIP vote surged beyond that which was being polled nationally."

Latest polling evidence suggests that UKIP is polling around 6% in opinion polls - twice what they polled at the last general election.

"The people who are switching to UKIP are disproportionally Conservative voters," says Professor John Curtis, of the University of Strathclyde. "About 7% of the Conservative vote is now in the UKIP camp."

The official Conservative line is that there will be no deal with UKIP and party leader Nigel Farage has spoken in similar terms.

But for many of our Conservative MPs this is growing threat. Calls for some kind of deal with UKIP before 2015 are unlikely to disappear.

Deborah McGurran Article written by Deborah McGurran Deborah McGurran Political editor, East of England

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  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Reading your article, I am one of those Tory voters and have been all my working life, I joined UKIP when Cameron refused a free vote on the in/out referendum. The Express collected 10000 signature told the nation that if there were enough signatures, he would discuss and have a free vote on any subject that the country wanted. The Express capitalised on that and he didnt like it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    It is refreshing to see personal honesty and integrity in politicians of all parties. I hope that this MP is smartly promoted as his party could be seen to have a need for such qualities in respect to the EU amongst other things. That is if they want to win another election, alas I fear it is too late for the Lib Dems...

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    I hope UKIP continue to rise and I'm sure they will.

    They believe in what they believe and don't change their policies every five minutes depending which way the political wind is blowing.

    Unlike u-turn Dave and Ed Milliband who would say anything they thought would get the public to support them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Just like the Country Party Movement in the 1720s, UKIP is here to unite the country against the Europhiles who are wrecking and attempting to abolish Britain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Raising the defence budget is a policy but it's not to go to war with anyone. Duno if you watched the news in the last 5years but our army is under resourced, the kit is poor! More importantly military families suffer, many living in appaling conditions! It's nice ideology to not have an army but it'd also be nice not to pay for house insurance. You never know whats going to happen!


Comments 5 of 15


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