Huffpost UK Politics uk

Local Elections 2013: Tory MPs Say 'Sneering' Attacks On Ukip 'Clowns' Must End

Posted: Updated:

Conservative MPs have warned the Ukip surge is a result of a visceral hatred of the ruling elite and that the "fruitcake" name calling must stop.

As local elections results filtered in through the early hours of Friday morning, it became clear that Ukip had made significant gains across England - including securing second place ahead of the Tories in the South Shields by-election.

Farage had predicted his party would cause an earthquake in British politics and the tremors are mostly being felt on the Tory benches. Conservative MPs worry a substantial Ukip vote at the next general election could doom the Conservative Party to defeat by splitting the right-wing vote and letting Labour through the middle.

Michael Fabricant, the vice-chairman of the Tory party, said "life cannot go on as normal for all three main parties" in the wake of the result.

"I hope there will be some serious research about exactly what message UKIP voters are giving: none-of-the-above or specific issues," he said, adding: "But if nothing else, let us now be polite to Ukip and their supporters."

In the run-up to the elections, Ukip candidates came under intense scrutiny and faced a barrage of criticism. Last weekend Tory cabinet minister Ken Clarke described the party as "clowns" and David Cameron once famously dismissed Ukip as "fruitcakes" although he has recently tried to row back from that criticism.

Farage has said his party was "abused by everybody" and writing on The Huffington Post UK he said his candidates had been subject to "false allegations and downright intimidation".

Clacton MP Douglas Carswell said on Friday that "attacking Ukip as clowns" or simply "sneering" at its candidates and policies "will not do".

"Ukip is a reaction to the lack of authenticity amongst the smug, politics-as-usual elite who rule Westminster," he wrote on his blog.

"For too many people, both Labour and the Conservatives seem to be two sides of the same debased political currency. Both parties seem to be run as Westminster-based operations, with a handful of local franchises."

Lord Ashcroft, a former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party also took aim at the insults directed towards Ukip. "Congratulations to the "clowns" and "fruitcakes"!!! That worked!!" he Tweeted sarcastically.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman said the local election results were a product of the "deep, inchoate sense of betrayal" felt by voters and that Farage's message was "chiming with decent mainstream Conservatives".

"In politics, banking, the media, and seemingly across the board of modern Britain, the elites at the top have been spending too much time enjoying each other's company, at the expense of looking after those at the bottom of the pyramid that put them there," he said.

Writing on Conservative Home he added: "The British people are developing a deep, visceral but quiet anger at what is coming to be seen as the betrayal of ordinary people - and the values they expect and aspire to be governed through - by increasingly unaccountable elites."

Totnes Tory MP Sarah Wollaston, said voters were unimpressed with David Cameron appearing to stack his inner-circle with privileged Old Etonians that were out of touch with the average voter.

"To actually appoint very many people from his own background at such a sensitive stage I think is unfortunate," she said. "We've got to address the issue of patronage because it's undermining the confidence that people have in politics and politicians."

The view that Ukip was now a significant player in British politics was echoed by Lib Dem home office minister Jeremy Browne. He told the BBC the UK was now a "four party political system" and suspected people were voting Ukip to rail against the establishment. "There is unease about how politics is done in this country," he said.

However the notion that Farage was an anti-establishment icon was dismissed. Labour MP Jamie Reed said "the notion that Nigel Farage isn't from, of and for the establishment is risible".

Also on HuffPost:

Close
Local Council Elections
of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide

Suggest a correction