Conservative and UKIP Councillors Must Work Together

Following last week’s local elections, 32 local councils were left with no one party able to control the council.  Of these, a fifth (seven councils in total*) would have a working majority if UKIP and Conservatives were able to come to an agreement and form a coalition at a local level.

There is one factor that is common among all these council: in six of the seven, the Conservatives lost the most seats and UKIP were the ones that picked up most of these seats in almost all cases. It should therefore be absolutely clear: the bulk of those who voted UKIP used to be Conservative Party voters.

Of course, this was already shown to be the case by polls showing that 45 percent of UKIP supporters voted Conservative in 2010. So to an extent, the local results of the 22nd were simply an affirmation of what most of us already knew and absolute confirmation for those who were otherwise too arrogant to listen to the polling data.

What is less clear is how the local Conservatives and UKIP will react to the change in the landscape. If we are to believe what we hear, however, then we are led to believe there is reluctance on the part of Conservatives to enter in to any coalition with their UKIP colleagues- many of whom will be former Conservatives- to form a working majority on their local councils.

Such reluctance is misguided for several reasons. First and foremost, it is abhorrent to Conservative voters that there could be a preference for sitting alongside Labour or even the Liberal Democrats instead of those of a similar political persuasion simply out of fear or anger.

Bipartisanship between the Conservatives and the Labour is all well and good when required, but the two parties have fundamentally different perspectives on the use of public money and taxation. Jumping in to bed to with the Labour Party to work on budgets and council tax arrangements simply won’t cut the mustard in the eyes of Conservative voters. Given that most of these UKIP are predisposed to conservatism, finding agreement that taxes should kept low and wasteful spending ruthlessly axed should be straight forward.

Secondly, it would be an exhibit of the arrogance that has driven so many Conservatives to UKIP in the first place. By outright refusing to even entertain the idea of a coalition with a party in which we have common ideals to instead sit alongside a party we have profound disagreements with would create an understandable feeling of anguish at the rejection of a party group comprised largely of former conservative voters.

What’s more, it would also smack of an establishment ‘lock out’. As already alluded to, many the seats UKIP hold used to be Conservative seats. It’s therefore understandable that there’s some anger at colleagues being lost in what is deemed as some kind of insurgency. The answer isn’t to forge an unholy alliance with the Labour Party, but to respect the electorate’s wishes. They still wish to have someone of conservative persuasion represent them, and would like that reflect in the way their council is run. Ignoring this reality is no way to win these voters back.

Admittedly, it isn’t a straight choice between jumping in to bed with Labour or the Lib Dem’s in all of these councils. Yet even where there is a local independent grouping, it is an inconvenient truth that the seats UKIP now hold would have previously been Conservative seats. That they may simply be conservative minded voters who have a gripe with the national party should not be ignored. Shunning them altogether only runs the risk of makes a return to the Conservative party less likely whilst continuing to foster unnecessary animosity between two parties that should have much in common.

We know not if the line taken by local Conservative groups thus far is a choice of their own making or a line that has been dictated to them from above. That is largely irrelevant. Either way, the hand of friendship should be extended in the interest of delivering lower council taxes and a local council run in a way that adheres to conservative principles by ‘uniting the right’- just as the electorate would expect of both parties.

*The councils are: Great Yarmouth, Havering, Maidstone, Peterborough, Basildon, Basingstoke & Deane and Castle Point

Great Yarmouth

Conservative & UKIP majority of 7

 

Party

 

Seats

 

Change+/-

Labour

16

-4

Conservative

13

-6

United Kingdom Independence Party

10

10

 

Havering

Conservative & UKIP majority of 4

 

Party

 

Seats

 

Change+/-

Residents Association

24

12

Conservative

22

-11

United Kingdom Independence Party

7

7

Labour

1

-4

Independent

0

-4

Maidstone

Conservative & UKIP majority of 3

Party

Seats

Change+/-

Conservative

25

-4

Liberal Democrat

19

-1

Independent

5

0

United Kingdom Independence Party

4

4

Labour

2

1

 

Peterborough

Conservative & UKIP majority of  5

Party

Seats

Change+/-

Conservative

28

-4

Labour

12

1

Independent

7

0

Liberal Democrat

4

0

United Kingdom Independence Party

3

3

Liberal

3

0

Basildon

Conservative & UIKIP majority of 16

Party

Seats

Change+/-

Conservative

17

-7

United Kingdom Independence Party

12

11

Labour

10

-3

Independent

2

0

Liberal Democrat

1

-1

Basingstoke and Deane

Conservative & UKIP majority of 2

Party

Seats

Change+/-

Conservative

29

-2

Labour

17

3

Liberal Democrat

8

-3

Independent

4

1

United Kingdom Independence Party

2

1

Castle Point

Conservative & UKIP majority of 9

Party

Seats

Change+/-

Conservative

20

-5

Independent

16

0

United Kingdom Independence Party

5

5

 


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