Roger Arthur: Why I quit top Tory post to join UKIP

HOR060411 Local elections count at Christ's Hospital. Roger Arthur left and Philip Circus. photo by derek martin
HOR060411 Local elections count at Christ's Hospital. Roger Arthur left and Philip Circus. photo by derek martin

Last week, I resigned from the Conservative Party because its leaders have lost touch with members, with their core values and with reality. That is because Mr Cameron, like Mr Blair before him, has pursued the soft, Politically Correct (PC), centre ground of politics, dubbing ‘opponents’ who take tougher positions, as extremist or bigoted. As Peter Oborne indicates in his excellent book, the Triumph of the Political Class, they are both typical of that ‘modern Class’, in which members often have a limited understanding of the ordinary workplace. We can glean something of the PM’s modus operandi from his former special adviser, Steve Hilton who, after resigning, observed that the Government ‘often found out about its own policies through the media’. In an early example of Political Correct (PC) style over substance, the PM had a wind generator fitted to his roof, soon after becoming leader and he now supports wind farms.

Wishing to avoid being seen as nasty, the PM has pursued a media facing agenda, distancing himself from anything too tough. Instead of grasping nettles, he typically calls for a report and then acts according to the response, often from a pressure group, making policy on the hoof.

This trial and error approach risks not only our economic survival but also the integrity of our institutions, which are amongst the key checks and balances of our democracy.

Recently, after a spat with the media, the PM ‘crossed another Rubicon’ acceding to undue restriction of the press, no doubt helping to keep embarrassing issues away from the public.

Without strong PM support, we cannot count on our Tory Chancellor to take the tough measures needed to clear up Labour’s economic mess, which used to be a principal raison d’etre for the Conservative Party.

Whilst public spending rose by around 53 per cent in real terms from 2000 to 2010, this Chancellor only expects to reduce it by 2.7 per cent, between 2010 and 2017.

The urgent priorities remain, to i) lower the Public Sector Burden substantially and ii) to increase export-focused growth, led by entrepreneurs, who will innovate and take risk, given adequate incentive. Regrettably the radical measures needed have not been taken and the Government has found it easier to pursue softer options, whilst the debt keeps rising.

So the economy continues to deteriorate, threatening further decline in our AAA agency ratings, leaving us exposed to higher interest rates and increasing debt, whilst we continue sending aid to increasingly wealthy countries.

Then you ask, what did or didn’t, happen?

Well, the promised bonfire of the quangos didn’t happen but the government did continue with new appointments at the taxpayers’ expense, including planning inspectors, National Park Boards and Local Enterprise Partnerships, plus Crime Commissioners and Deputies.

The publicly funded mortgage scheme for buyers, who can’t save the usual deposit, transfers loan risk from the banks to the taxpayer. It neglects housing supply inadequacy and inflating prices and the Chancellor seems to have forgotten key lessons from the sub-prime debt crisis!

Again fearing the ‘nasty’ finger, the PM ring-fenced the NHS as a sacred cow, when it was clearly unfit for purpose and we now see evidence of its uncontrolled decline.

He also allowed the Border Agency problems to go on for too long, whilst talking of restricting headline immigration figures, when in fact we also need to control the rate of immigration, to limit the impact on our infrastructure, social services and competition with those on Job Seekers’ Allowance, for low-income employment.

Clearly, we should be able to determine which resources we allow in and when, but our Government is restricted in what it can do, because the associated laws are decided in Brussels.

Indeed, the EU straitjacket, poses many threats to our future well-being.

In the event, the PM has found it easier to pursue gay marriage, police commissioners and wind power, rather than focus on our ability to survive and prosper and to keep the lights on. He apparently favours shutting down a few coal-fired power stations (whilst China and India continue to build many hundreds) leaving us at risk of power cuts, disruption and high energy costs.

Under Localism, ministers peddle the idea that, since the old Local Housing Plans are defunct, councils are entirely responsible, if planned housing numbers exceed the wishes of local residents. In fact government inspectors have the final say and are unlikely to approve targets much lower than those in the defunct plans.

Also the New Homes Bonus was badged for local development, whereas it has often been far outweighed by other funding reductions. Tory councillors understand the need for funding cuts, but they don’t expect to be undermined in that way by their own ministers, who seem to prefer to let them appear as fall guys, for Government funding cuts or planning policies.

Unbelievably, Tory councillors are still expected to tramp the streets in support of parliamentary candidates, who have been party researchers or who meet misguided PC criteria, when they are aching for the best candidates, regardless of background or gender.

Like many ex-Tories, I have no wish to canvass for career politicians, who have limited experience of the real world and have quite possibly been short-listed, based on PC criteria.

Also, many remain mystified at Mr Cameron’s apparent desperation to be heir-to-Blair, whose spin and deception took respect for politicians to a new low, a distorted philosophy that has done much to undermine confidence in politicians and in our institutions.

It may have kept politicians comfortable, but it has left many people disillusioned and feeling let down. It seems possible that a similar philosophy could become embedded in our district council, with political decisions being pursued, without adequate knowledge of the financial impact.

If that happens, or if there is any related attempt to muzzle councillors, then I shall expose it. Because MPs of the three main parties found it convenient to follow their leader(s) in pursuit of the Blair/Cameron philosophy, many are likely to be short on leadership qualities and are probably not best placed to restore public confidence.

On the other hand, UKIP seeks a return to strong leadership, a sound economy and a free press. Not only does it want to restore the integrity of politicians and institutions, it seeks to unchain us from an ever expanding and sinking EU, so that we can regain control of our destiny.

Whilst some may see that as an expression of hope over reality, the other party leaders offer neither hope, nor a good grasp on reality. They have no stomach for the journey ahead and have not even got to the starting line. Clearly, we can wait for them no longer.

I regret that after 50 years, I have parted ways with the Tory party and have resigned from the cabinet.

I cannot realistically continue as deputy leader but shall continue to do my best for the taxpayer, in my role as a councillor.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article.