A CONSERVATIVE MP said yesterday that voters could sense Britain descending into “a state of failure” following the party’s dismal showing in the Eastleigh by-election.
In a blog post with the headline “Are we heading for a Pim Fortuyn moment?”– referring to the far-right Dutch politician who was assassinated in 2002 – Douglas Carswell wrote: “Contempt for MPs comes not just with revelations about a few individuals’ dodgy dealings. Anger grows because the political class make glib gestures, rather than govern.
“Billions of pounds go into a health service riddled with delays and MRSA. More money on schools has seen standards decline. Government has lost control of our borders.”
He is the latest Tory MP to speak out as pressure grows on David Cameron to return to core Conservative values. The Prime Minister has insisted there will be no change of direction, despite seeing his party slump to third place behind the UK Independence Party in a seat the Tories had had hopes of winning.
But he is facing a growing groundswell of discontent among Tory back-benchers who fear the rise of UKIP could put paid to their chances of winning an outright majority at the next general election.
Tory vice-chairman Michael Fabricant – who was heavily involved in the Eastleigh campaign – warned the Conservative high command that it could not be dismissed as a mid-term protest vote.
He said the party had struggled to present a distinctive message, while UKIP had connected with traditional Tory voters on issues such as immigration and crime.
“The Conservative voice is muffled and not crisp. It does not clearly project Conservative core policies or principles,” he wrote on Twitter. “With UKIP clearly announcing policies the public want to hear, we must do the same. 26 months to go [to the next general election] boys and girls…”
Tory back-bencher Colonel Bob Stewart said there was dismay among the rank-and-file about the direction the party was taking. “We have failed to actually get policies that appeal. We have upset many of our key supporters by the stupidity and the irrelevance of the Equal Marriage Act,” he said.
“This is a wake-up call. If the Conservative Party at the top doesn’t get the message, we will soon bring it home because back-benchers like myself are extremely concerned.”
Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson, who quit as a ministerial aid over Europe, called for a change of direction to stave off defeat in the 2015 general election.