Having provided mutual aid to other Conservative Associations from Kent to Cramlington, your local Association spent most of last Friday glued to the internet as the results came in for the local elections. Not a bad day overall for the Party although an obvious worry was the rise of UKIP.
As an Association that is as comfortable with real ale as it is hot brownies and smoothies, we took heart from Nigel Farage's 'pub' conferences. However, come 2015, after a moment of gentlemanly respect we can assure you that Camberwell and Peckham Conservative Association, your Rorke's Drift in a veldt of red, will be holding the common ground, battling our UKIP adversaries as hard as we've taken the fight to Harriet Harman.
Our opposition is not one of personality - as Conservative activists in Labour's safest London constituency we are hardly best placed to call anyone a clown or loony. Our opposition is to their track record (or lack thereof) and policies.
UKIP have only been around since the early 1990s. Since then they have held office in local Councils, the GLA, and the European Parliament and have amassed a record of achievement as long as a chipolata sausage. In the European Parliament they have been the picture of indolence.
UKIP MEPs have received up to £12½ million in salary, staffing, and office costs since the 2009 euro elections. And what do British taxpayers get in return? The worst attendance, voting, and work performance of any British party. Not only are they lazy and profligate, but they undermine our national interest.
Take one example: the recent vote on the damaging EU financial transaction tax went to a knife-edge in the economic committee, eventually passing by just one vote. UKIP member Godfrey Bloom could have stopped the legislation in its tracks – if he had turned up to vote. These are not the people we want to be running our schools and hospitals.
On policy UKIP remain a bit of muddle. Their flagship policy of withdrawal from the European Union seems a tad risky given the rocky waters buffeting our Sceptre Isle. While you won't find many foaming-at-the-mouth Europhiles pounding the pavement with your Association in Peckham Rye or Camberwell Green, the sober truth is that Labour have demonstrated their capability of trashing the country without the help of the European Union.
Many of our current challenges don’t stem from Europe. We don't have a 'southern European' size deficit because of Fishing Directives or a housing shortage because of the Common Agricultural Policy. Our present difficulties stem from a Labour Government that created a 'something for nothing' society. While Labour spent time building an economy on debt, they kicked the can down on road on a whole range of issues from welfare reform to education.
Come May 2015, the British public will give their verdict on the Conservative-led coalition Government. They will have a choice between a Conservative Party offering them a referendum on Europe and a track record on bringing sanity to serious issues like immigration and a Labour Party that doesn’t support a referendum and remains unrepentant. Between now and then, we will be campaigning hard to try to ensure that it’s a positive one. U-kip if you want to but this Association is going straight ahead.
Camberwell and Peckham Conservative Association