Friday, 14 August 2009

Tories will defect to UKIP, says Tebbit

Lord Tebbit has predicted that David Cameron’s attempts to attract new voters to the Conservative Party will alienate Tory supporters and make some defect to the UK Independence Party.

In a BBC Radio Four interview, the former Conservative Cabinet minister said Mr Cameron and the “clever young men” were focusing their appeal on former Labour and Liberal Democrat voters and ignoring the concerns of traditional Tories.

Since becoming leader in 2005, Mr Cameron has worked to broaden his party’s appeal, distancing himself from some traditional Tory policies – like support for grammar schools – and spoken little about issues like Europe.

In the latest appeal to the centre ground, George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor, this week claimed that the Tories are now the “progressive” party of British politics, echoing the language and ideas of Tony Blair’s New Labour project.

Lord Tebbit, who served in Baroness Thatcher’s Cabinet, has been a long-standing critic of Mr Cameron’s strategy and said the Tory leader has been “led astray” by professional electioneering techniques.

He said: "The clever young men have refined their calculations of who exactly are the people that need to switch sides to win the marginal seats in order to get a majority. And of course the switchers are potentially former New Labour voters and former Lib Dem voters.

"So their advice to him [Mr Cameron] was, 'Pitch everything to please those people'.

“The danger is that in doing that he will leave a lot of the hard-core Tory voters feeling, 'Well it wouldn't make much difference'. And they may stay at home or defect to Ukip in the same way that a lot of old Labour voters have defected to the BNP."

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