Nigel Farage has often cast himself as the “Heir to Thatcher.” Today he and his party demonstrated it, not so much in the votes they have attracted from disgruntled Tories as in the ones they got from working class voters in northern constituencies like Rotherham and Sunderland, and also in the epicentre of the Thatcher revolution, Essex.
In Sunderland, they commanded around 30 per cent of the vote, a remarkable achievement for a right-leaning party. Here is someone from the region, putting it in context, at Tim Stanley’s Telegraph blog.
Having grown up not far from Sunderland I wish to emphasise what a seismic shift this is.
Folk who would rather have piles than vote Tory are deserting Labour in their thousands and voting UKIP.
Theyare doing so because they have had enough of the lies and deceit of thepolitical establishment and the alien metropolitan multiculturalistLabour Party.
UKIP has given them a voice.
To UKIP’s strategists this will come as no surprise whatsoever. For months, they have been telling anyone who’ll listen that the Labour vote is as much theirs for the taking as the Conservative one.
But it has come as a huge shock to the left-liberal chattering classes embodied by Twitter. Because they never understood what made Margaret Thatcher popular, they lack the intellectual tools to comprehend the appeal of her spiritual heir Nigel Farage.
What they fail to understand above all was that Margaret Thatcher was not a conventional Conservative. This was the case argued so brilliantly by filmmaker Martin Durkin in his must-see documentary Margaret: Death Of A Revolutionary. For a taste, read this blog.
SHUT your eyes and think of Margaret Thatcher (twin-set, hair-do, hand bag, smells nice) and Fidel Castro (combat fatigues, bushy beard, revolver, smells of backy). Which one is the firebrand working-class revolutionary? The answer, of course, is Mrs Thatcher. The vile tyrant Castro enslaved and impoverished the lower orders in Cuba. Thatcher enriched and liberated them in Britain.
The reason the Left hates Thatcher so much is that she stole the working class from them. And she was able to do this because she understood and shared their aspirations.
Behind the bluster about her death this week are two very different visions of the working class. According to the Left, the proles are oppressed, and the source of that oppression is economic freedom. The Left wants the working class living in state housing, travelling on state transport, working in state-controlled jobs, receiving a state education. The Left fights not to change, but to preserve working practices and “working class communities”, as it offensively calls them.
Mrs Thatcher had a sneaking suspicion that people wanted to own their own home, perhaps in a leafy suburb rather than a council estate. She had the idea that “working class” people wanted the things she wanted – to leave money to their children, to own a few shares, maybe start a little company, go on foreign holidays, own a car – maybe even two cars! She was right. They did want this, which is why ordinary working people voted for her in huge numbers.
The shop keepers and builders and taxi drivers of Basildon (formerly Labour) thought she was God’s gift. Mrs Thatcher saw voluntary profitable economic exchange as an essential and vital part of a truly human existence. Her commitment to economic freedom was moral and inspired by a (Christian) love of and confidence in other people.
The “market” was not a wicked thing. It was lively and sociable, she said. It brought spices and coffee and bananas into the shops. In her day, it brought Fred Astaire to the local cinema. And most ordinary Britons had the good sense to agree (unlike the Left, our “intelligentsia” and the Tory old guard).
It’s not just the liberal-left chatterati who don’t get UKIP. Equally blind are the Cameron-loyalist Conservatives. Cameron himself has long fought shy of the notion that he belongs to the Thatcherite tradition (indeed he has described himself as the “Heir to Blair”) and on this issue at least he is being commendably honest. The party he leads embodies the spirit of the Tory Wets whom Thatcher more or less managed to marginalise – but who later would destroy her. It is the party of big government and “managed decline.”
No wonder UKIPers are so reluctant to go into coalition with them. Who would wish to ally themselves with a party so pusillanimous and pessimistic about what can be achieved in Britain if only it ever gets a government brave enough to set its people free.