UKIP bags a big one in Rochester and Strood by-election

UKIP bags a big one in Rochester and Strood by-election

It doesn’t matter what you think of Mark Reckless. It doesn’t even matter what you think of UKIP. Whether you love them or hate them their victory last night in the Rochester and Strood by-election was a victory for (almost) all of us. …

Exhibit B: [Conservative] Oliver Letwin. It wouldn’t be quite true to say that Oliver Wetwin or Oliver Leftwing (as he is variously known) is the architect of everything that is wrong with the modern Conservative party. Just most of it. Damp rag, squishy centrist, Hampstead intellectual Letwin is, as the Conservatives’ longstanding policy chief, the man who helped “detoxify” the Tory brand by cleverly ensuring that there was almost nothing Tory left in it. From gay marriage to green energy, from defence cuts to ring-fenced overseas aid, Letwin is the reason so many Conservatives loathe and despise the Cameron Conservative party.

Which is what makes it so surprising that Letwin, of all people, was the latest senior Tory to be given permission by party HQ to talk weally, weally tough on Europe. If Britain didn’t get what it wanted in its European negotiations then it should consider leaving the EU altogether, he told students at University College, London – in a no-doubt, carefully-planned, eve-of-Rochester bombshell. …

Why is this incident so significant? Because if it weren’t for UKIP’s burgeoning success, it would simply never have happened. Cameron’s Tories are centrist, Europhile, politically correct. But the march of UKIP has brutally forced them out of their squishy comfort zone and forced them to start thinking like real conservatives again.

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