A Conservative MEP joins Britain’s Euroskeptic UKIP. The BBC has some of the details:
MEP Roger Helmer has defected from the Conservative Party to the UK Independence Party (UKIP). The East Midlands MEP is expected to explain his reasons at the UKIP spring conference in Lincolnshire on Saturday.
But he told BBC Radio 5live that his new party was more in tune with the concerns of Tory voters.
“UKIP better represents the views of Conservative voters than David Cameron’s Conservative Party,” he said, on a wide range of issues.
“Take Europe, take climate change and energy, take immigration.
“On all these issues, UKIP presents the sort of policies that Conservative voters believe in and David Cameron’s Conservative party sadly does not.”
It’s difficult to disagree. More please.
As it happens, I interviewed Nigel Farage, UKIP’s leader, a week or two ago, and that interview is in the latest NRODT. As the suits would say, subscribe!
Update: Over at Tory Diary, Conservative party (critical) loyalist Tim Montgomerie responds to the Helmer defection. He highlights the important point that, under Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system, voting for UKIP splits the right-of-center vote and hands parliamentary seats to the europhile left. That’s true enough (although not in elections for the European Parliament, where, with the exception of Dan Hannan, there is no real reason to vote Tory at all), and it matters, but time’s a passing, and, for all the theatrics of his veto (such as it was), Cameron’s government has, if anything, taken Britain deeper into the EU despite the opportunity presented by the euro zone crisis to do just the opposite. The veto itself was only the result of pressure on Cameron from euroskeptic Tories, pressure that in part, comes from the pressure that they in turn feel from UKIP.
[Helmer’s defection] is also a warning that many Conservatives are struggling to see enough in Project Cameron to maintain their loyalty.
Let’s be clear about this: As a bulwark (of sorts) against Labour, the Conservatives have real value, and finance minister George Osborne is doing a decent job under very tough conditions. But with the exception of education reforms far more cautious than what has been pushed through by Sweden’s (barely) right-of-center Moderaterna, “Project Cameron” has little about it that is worth recommending, and considerably less than UKIP (which is about more, these days, than just Europe), but back to Montgomerie:
Streetwise MEPs like [UKIP’s]Paul Nuttall hint that UKIP is becoming more than a one man wonder. They are at 5% or 6% in some polls. If they maintain that level of support they will make it harder for the Conservatives to win that elusive parliamentary majority. My message to Cameron as he dances with Nick Clegg on the Coalition dance floor is not to forget the Conservative Party that waits at the edge, tapping its foot a little more menacingly each and every day.
For now, the best way to send that message is to vote UKIP.