M A I N   N E W S

Special to The Tribune
County council poll may give a jolt to Conservatives in Britain
NRIs backing new party in Thursday’s local elections
Shyam Bhatia in London

Britain’s ruling Conservatives are expected to get a jolt following the outcome of Thursday’s local county council elections, widely seen as indicating the way the wind is likely to blow in 2015 General Election.

The new political party that is expected to devastate the Conservatives, and to a lesser extent their Liberal Democrat partners and the opposition Labour Party, is the UK Independence Party, or UKIP, a right wing Eurosceptic movement that has a handful of seats in the European Parliament and a few members in the British House of Lords.

The UKIP is fielding some 1,700 candidates, including NRIs, in Thursday’s elections in the hope of capturing some 14 per cent of the vote. Any such success would be tantamount to a bloody nose for the Conservatives who are currently on course to lose the next General Election.

While the Conservatives have been praised by some of their traditional supporters for reducing the national deficit and freezing local taxes, they come across to the vast majority of voters as incompetent and irredeemably elitist, unable and unwilling to identify with the hopes and aspirations of ordinary working people.

Prime Minister David Cameron and his confidantes are products of the super elite boarding school, Eton, the equivalent of India’s Doon School, and the even more elite Oxford University. The latest appointment to Cameron’s inner circle is Jo Johnson, Conservative MP for Orpington and a former Delhi correspondent of the Financial Times. Johnson is a brother of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and, like his brother and the Prime Minister, a graduate of Eton and Oxford.

For British voters, the UKIP is seen as a game changer, both because it is more in touch with common aspirations and also because it dares to articulate radical policies that other political parties dare not address. Its support for looser ties, if not outright withdrawal from the European Union, which UKIP Party leader Nigel Farage says costs the UK some £53 million per day, reduced taxes, limiting immigration from Eastern Europe and backing for same sex marriages has won support from across a broad spectrum of voters.

UKIP’s most severe critics include Prime Minister Cameron and have in the past described the party as full of “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists.” But that has not dented the party’s image, not even among non-white members.

They include Uganda-born Sushil Patel, a successful businessman and the father of Conservative MP Priti Patel who represents the constituency of Witham in Essex. Patel, who is a UKIP candidate in county council elections, justified his political leanings by saying: “The eye opener came after 2004 when British jobs for British people were going away, we expect jobs for our people. The British people are intelligent, this is a warm country, the only country in the world which is not racist.”

For her part, Priti made a declaration of continuing affection for her father of which Bollywood would be proud. “No matter what, whatever the outcome of this, he is still my dad and I love him. Nothing will change that, not even the UKIP.”





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |