Mrs Pat Blandamer has a distinguished record in local government. She is a former Mayor of Gedling in Nottinghamshire, and former Conservative Councillor for Burton Joyce. And on Thursday August 2nd, she joined UKIP. On Monday August 6th, she attended a meeting of the Gedling UKIP Branch,at the Longbow Pub in Arnold, where she was welcomed by Branch Chairman Lee Waters.
And she’s not alone. Across the UK, across the East Midlands, people who care about our country, and about the way politics in this country are going, are abandoning the old parties and moving across to UKIP.
Since I made my move, in March of this year, a few people (fewer than I expected, I have to say) have asked “As a lifelong Conservative, Roger, how could you move to UKIP?”. And my answer is simply, “I joined UKIP, not in spite of being a conservative, but because I’m a conservative”. I should add that far more Conservatives have made helpful and supportive comments than negative ones. I would say that many of them sounded wistful — they’d really like to make the same move, if they could just overcome the tribal loyalties, old friendships and force of habit that bind them to the Tories.
Commentator Peter Oborne famously described UKIP as “The Conservative Party in exile”. But it’s more than that. Across this region, we have not only former Conservatives, but former Labour and former Lib-Dem councillors as well. After all, you don’t have to have been a Conservative to believe that our country should be free, and independent and democratic. To believe that we in our country are entitled to self-determination. To want common-sense policies on climate and energy. Affordable and secure electricity supplies. A rational approach to immigration, and defence, and policing, and welfare. It’s not only Conservatives who’re furious that the European Convention prevents us from deporting criminals and terrorists, and that the European Arrest Warrant threatens the liberty of every British citizen.
I find that people in UKIP aren’t keen to be seen as “left” or “right” — and nothing makes us so cross as those left-wing journalists who used to try to smear the Party as “Far Right”, as though it were extremist to believe in freedom and democracy. UKIP is not left. Not right. But common-sense. And growing fast.