THE BLOG

None of the Above

28/05/2014 13:09 BST | Updated 27/07/2014 10:59 BST

Yes it is a matter of psephological note that UKIP are the first party since 1910 other than the major parties to have topped a national poll.

However, I think we need to get a number of factors into perspective.

1 in 10 of electors voted UKIP.

Of those who did vote UKIP, I suspect that a large proportion were in reality voting for:

"None of the above".

Indeed, I suspect if there had been some "none of the above" candidates they would have beaten UKIP.

It is worth noting that according to polling by Lord Ashcroft, 60% of those who backed UKIP said they did so simply to send a message that they were unhappy with all of the other parties.

It would seem that about a third of those who voted UKIP last week did not vote at the last General Election and staggeringly a fifth had not voted for 20 years.

It is also worth noting that much of UKIP's support comes from older electors.

During the course of the recent European and local elections, I knocked on hundreds of doors in different parts of my constituency and I think it is fair to say having been the local MP for nearly a third of a century, most people recognise me.

All that notwithstanding, only one person actually said that they were going to vote UKIP.

This particular lady's reasons were that her son works as a chef and she thought his wages were being kept down by the ability of restaurants to employ chefs elsewhere from Europe.

So I think it is important to sort out the issues that are causing concern to those voting for none of the above and those who actually want to see Nigel Farage and the possibility of UKIP MPs.

It is all the more important at a time when all three major political parties are agreed on such things as public spending levels and policy measures such as the welfare cap.

There is clearly a shared responsibility to explain that the measures being taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer which have resulted in the UK growing faster than any other major economy and creating new jobs faster than even the USA is the best way forward for Britain.

However, I think we all have to recognise that we have been going through a deep recession which has affected some people harder than others and some have emerged from recession earlier than others. There are a number of people who feel that they are being left behind by the pace of change and to complicate matters the recession overlapped with a crisis of trust in many mainstream UK institutions such as the BBC, the police (Plebgate), the media (hacking), MPs (expenses), the banks (too numerous to set out).

Only time will ensure a restoration of trust in these key institutions.

So people who voted or indeed didn't vote in the recent elections did so to send a number of different messages.

One lady on the doorstep who told me she wasn't voting said she never voted "simply because it encourages them!" which I suspect is another symptom of the feeling of none of the above.

There clearly is a widespread perception that the European Union is not working for Britain.

In fairness, that message has been understood at Westminster for some time now.

It is the reason why the Prime Minister has made it clear that he wants to renegotiate Britain's relationship with Europe, for Britain to have a relationship which potentially brings real change and works for Britain and most, importantly, to give the people of Britain a say on whether or not we wish to remain members of the European Union in a straightforward in/out referendum.

Only the Conservatives are committed to having an in/out referendum.

In this last session of Parliament I co-sponsored a Private Member's Bill to commit the UK to having a referendum on our membership of the European Union.

It was a Bill which attracted unanimous support from every part of the Conservative Parliamentary Party from those traditionally seen as Eurosceptic such as Bill Cash to those such as myself who are instinctively pro-European.

It was a perfectly straightforward Bill intending to commit to there being a referendum.

The Liberal Party abstained and the Labour Party opposed the Bill at every stage.

Ed Miliband has made it absolutely clear that if Labour win the forthcoming General Election there will be no renegotiation of our relationship with the European Union and there will be no possibility of the people of Britain having a referendum on our membership of the European Union.

It would be a crazy outcome for our country if at the General Election those voting UKIP effectively voted Miliband as Prime Minister.

Only the Conservative Party has a long-term economic plan.

Only the Conservatives are determined to deliver on the economy.

Only the Conservatives are serious about tackling welfare reform and the forthcoming Queen's Speech will have an Immigration Bill - it will be interesting to see whether the Labour Party oppose that Immigration Bill in just the same way as they have opposed every single measure introduced to the present Government's reform.

It's quite that the Labour Party offer nothing for the future of Britain. Reading through the election addresses of local Labour candidates in the recent local elections, all Labour offers is a return to what got us into a mess in the first place i.e. more spending, more taxes and more borrowing. There are no plans or ideas to deal with welfare or immigration.

I have always considered it a fundamental principle of politics to "trust" the people. I have every confidence that when next year people have to ask themselves the question "which political party is in the best interests of myself, my family, my children and the country?" they will in very large numbers vote Conservative.