In the immediate aftermath of UKIP council seat gains across the United Kingdom, the ‘little to the left’ website Conservative Home held its annual conference in Westminster.
Noteworthy amongst other reported comments were those by Conservative Party MP and Tory HQ darling Robert Halfon.
Halfon’s position in Harlow is precarious at best, and recently dozens of young Tory activists took to the constituency in an attempt to shore up Mr Halfon’s vote.
So it may have hurt a little to see UKIP gain 5 seats on Harlow council yesterday, as well as taking over a third of the popular vote in the area – mostly from former Tory voters.
But instead of addressing this, Halfon appeared to tack left at the ConHome conference today, perhaps in a bid to win over disenfranchised Labour voters, as is UKIP’s tactic as of late too.
But unlike UKIP, which speaks about issues the every man has to deal with, Halfon focused on elitist Left-wing views (emphases added):
“We need to convince working people, people on low incomes, that we are on their side, that we are the party of social justice,” he said. This was right after he claimed, “I’m a proud trade unionist, a member of a TU, not because I’m an ideologue but because I want the services my trade union offers.”
Indeed his speech may have been written by Polly Toynbee, or even John Maynard Keynes. He said, “I don’t hate Labour Party. I admire their passion and conviction. I don’t admire the way they messed up the country… We (Conservatives) should be the party of trade unionism, the party of affordable housing, and the party of redistribution… Let’s not be afraid to support those on low pay, the minimum wage, the living wage and full employment.”
Lady Thatcher would be turning in her grave. Most hard-working people will know that policies of subsidy, and taking from those who work hard and giving to those who don’t simply don’t work. That is why Miliband’s message struggles to land. This speech could easily have been given by the Labour leader.
Halfon has conflated the working classes with the benefit classes. His speech may as well have read, “We are the party of government, hand-outs, subsidies, and Marxism”. The speech was even lauded by the scarcely-read-outside-of-Islington Guardian.
Electoral Calculus gives Halfon the edge in 2015, but only barely. His majority is just under 5000, and the calculations that show him keeping the seat only account for a UKIP vote of 13 percent, and for his vote to slump by 5 percent.
In reality, the situation will be much closer. UKIP took 34 percent in the local elections in Harlow, and are likely to take over 15 percent in 2015. This, coupled with a resurgent local Labour Party, a trade union movement slamming Halfon at every opportunity despite his deference, and his vote shrinking by 5-7 percent, means he is looking more and more likely to lose his seat.