Up and down the country in various boroughs, towns and counties, UKIP is on the verge of becoming the official opposition… to absolutely everything. It is time we lay down our pride and admit that the Tories, eventually, got something right and that the proposed Ebbsfleet Garden City is not actually a bad idea.
I was at the marvellously arranged Freedom Festival in Bournemouth when the news of the proposed Garden City broke, and in the company of many fellow small c conservatives, as well as members of the Tory party – many of which say they are looking forward to voting UKIP this May in an attempt to kick their party up the backside. I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not writing this article to cause trouble, I am UKIP through and through, have never been a member of another political party and cannot see myself joining any other party in the next five or six years. Although I support the party in every way I can, recently I have been put off by the split-second Thick of It style policy, and the anti-everything approach that I truly thought had been put to bed.
Ebbsfleet, for the time being at least, consists only of an HS1 and Eurostar train station, a huge car-park and a football club (one which recently changed its name from Gravesend and Northfleet not too long ago in a bid to gain sponsorship money from Eurostar). It is a few miles east of Dartford and neighbours the towns of Gravesend and Northfleet where my father was raised and lived happily for many years.
Gravesham, the local authority of Gravesend and the surrounding areas, has huge unemployment levels with statistics around the 9% mark, a council which admits ‘there are simply not enough vacancies to assist more than a small proportion of those waiting each year for housing’, anti-social behaviour issues and poor state care for the elderly; like many other towns around the country at this present time you have to plonk your old folk miles from anywhere to even stand a chance of getting a place in a care home. On top of that, five of Gravesham’s wards are within the top 20% of the most deprived wards in England.
Gravesham has been let down and it deserves better. It has easy access to London, the South East including the marvellous Kent seaside and the Medway towns, and even the rest of Europe with the Eurostar connection – it is perfectly placed for that undergraduate looking for their first home but can’t afford inner-city prices. A recent opinion poll by ComRes found that 61% of British adults believe the government should make ending youth homelessness a priority and the National Housing Federation estimates that for every £1 spent on housing, £2.41 is generated in the wider economy, and that every new home creates 2.3 jobs (http://www.housing.org.uk/media/home-truths/home-truths-report-in-numbers/). If a project like the City Gardens, which will create 15,000 homes and countless jobs (34,500 if we go with the above statistic) is planned next door to a community who very much feel forgotten about, then we should support the policy regardless of its coming from the Tory party. As a party we bang on about there not being enough space or jobs for British people and immigrants a-like, yet we are wary of the idea of ‘making more room,’ and although I don’t personally believe it is up to the state to create these jobs, if they can then why not?
Just a few weeks ago a good friend of mine left UKIP in search of a better life in the Conservative Party. His reason? He believed that UKIP was slowly becoming a party of just anti-everything and wanted good strong policies to get behind. Okay I’m not sure why he joined the Tories on this basis either, but I am starting to agree with him. It is time to start becoming the party with policies which show what we are for and not just a long list of what we are against. We are meant to be the party who hates opportunistic point-scoring politicians, and although I agree that we must start showing the electorate we can be trusted, we also need to stay sensible in order to keep the grassroots of the party happy too; without them the party has nothing. I believe in UKIP and what it stands for, but we must start putting our dislike of every government policy aside and concentrate on making the UK a better place to live in. After all, that is the reason we are all in this game, isn’t it?