Cambridgeshire candidates reflect on the rise of UKIP

17:06 Friday 10th October 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

CHRIS MANN: The UK Independence Party, UKIP, has its first elected Member of Parliament, and has gone close to getting a second. Former Conservative MP Douglas Carswell won the Clacton by-election in the early hours of this morning with a majority of more than 12,000 over his old Party. If that wasn’t enough, UKIP came within just over 600 votes of taking the Heywood and Middleton by-election, where Labour just clung on. .. The UKIP MEP for the East and prospective Parliamentary candidate for Cambridge Patrick O’Flynn said it was a great day, but the Party still had work to do before the General Election in May.
PATRICK O’FLYNN: We can’t take anything for granted. It is an absolute breakthrough for UKIP. We’ve had our first directly elected MP, and the British public are clearly taking a look at us, and saying we like some of the things you say, we quite fancy adding you to the range of parties represented in the House of Commons. But we need to keep building on our strengths, improving ourselves where we’re not strong enough, and showing that we recognise the magnitude of the opportunity we might be given by the British public.
CHRIS MANN: Well at the General Election next year he will be up against Chamali Fernando, who is the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for the Cambridge seat. She joins me now. Hello Chamali
CHRIS MANN: So, only one in four voters stayed loyal to the Conservatives. Second place there, and heaven only knows what at the Rochester by-election. Disarray.

CHAMALI FERNANDO: Well Chris, the thing is UKIP have taken the seat from the Conservatives, and they didn’t manage to take it from Labour. And this confirms to us something very very basic. While UKIP say they take votes from all parties, in reality they actually cost the Conservatives Party seats. And that will just put labour closer to winning government.
CHRIS MANN: Well the Prime Minister’s made this warning several times. In fact he did it to me on this programme just a few months back. But obviously the electorate prefer UKIP.
CHAMALI FERNANDO: It’s not that they prefer UKIP. It’s actually that there is this sense of disillusionment in certain seats up and down the country, and unfortunately what that will do is if that vote goes to UKIP, it will let Ed Miliband in through the back door.
CHRIS MANN: Also with me who will also be fighting that seat is the Labour candidate for Cambridge Daniel Zeichner. Not a great night for Labour either. Look at how close you came. Just 617 votes to losing a historically safe seat.
DANIEL ZEICHNER: Well good evening Chris. The truth is that David Cameron lost last night, and Ed Miliband won. That’s a big difference. We’re not complacent about it, but it was a terrible result for the Conservatives, the biggest swing against them in a by-election since 1964. And this is part of a long running argument within the Conservative Party. Frankly, Douglas Carswell was the MP last week. Douglas Carswell is the MP now. This is an argument within the Conservatives which is actually irrelevant to most people who are concerned about ..
CHRIS MANN: But what UKIP are saying is they’re going to be second place to you. They’re going to be fighting you in the North. That’s something which you didn’t expect, isn’t it?
DANIEL ZEICHNER: Well I’m not sure it’s something we didn’t expect. One thing to take into account is in the North, for quite a long time now, it’s been the Liberal Democrats who are challenging Labour. Basically it’s where the protest vote goes, and although it seems ..
CHRIS MANN: Well you’ve mentioned the Conservatives. You’ve mentioned the LibDems. What about talking about Labour?
DANIEL ZEICHNER: I’m very happy to talk about Labour Chris.
CHRIS MANN: People saying today that you haven’t campaigned well. Even Frank Field saying that marginal seats, all bets are off.
DANIEL ZEICHNER: No I don’t agree with that. I think where Labour worked hard, and we did work hard in Middleton, we get the result. The Labour vote actually went up slightly in Middleton. What actually happened was the opposition vote collapsed in terms of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, collapsed into UKIP. That’s where it came from. But there are some very big issues, and quite clearly people do feel left behind, across the country, and they’re angry. And one of the ways they express that anger is in voting for UKIP.
CHRIS MANN: Sebastian Kindersley is also with us, who is a County councillor, but will be fighting South Cambs for the LibDems. Got 20,000 votes last time. 8,000 short. Is that right?
CHRIS MANN: You’re not going to get that this time.
SEBASTIAN KINDERSLEY: I might. You never know.
CHRIS MANN: Not judging by the ..
SEBASTIAN KINDERSLEY: I hope I get a couple more.
CHRIS MANN: Not judging by the revolt against LibDems which appears to be up and down the country.
SEBASTIAN KINDERSLEY: The fact of the matter is that we have always benefited from protest votes, and in this part of Cambridgeshire, we benefit from the fact that it is, I think we would all agree, very liberal with a small ‘L’. It was a terrible night for the Liberal Democrats. It was a terrible night for the Conservatives. I was a terrible night for Labour.
CHRIS MANN: Not the first. Ten deposits in a row. So have you given up the by-election crown to UKIP?
SEBASTIAN KINDERSLEY: It’s looking like that. But wouldn’t you expect that? A coalition government made up of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, and a period of austerity that has hit everybody, except obviously the extremely rich.
CHRIS MANN: The Coalition has been a disaster for your party.
SEBASTIAN KINDERSLEY: It has not been a disaster for the Party. It has been a disaster for our by-election prospects. And it has been for the other parties too. I think we should be honest about that. Well done UKIP. Now they are a party in Westminster, and we can actually have a proper look at their policies.
CHRIS MANN: Chamali Fernando, how many other Conservatives do you think are going to jump ship to UKIP?
CHAMALI FERNANDO: It’s impossible to say what other people are going to do.
CHRIS MANN: But do you think there will be others?
CHAMALI FERNANDO: I don’t know. The irony is that what the people want cannot be delivered by UKIp, so that’s a referendum on Europe and some kind of effective cap on immigration. And it is only the Conservatives that can deliver that. So this is a sad scenario, where ..
CHRIS MANN: Not the message that people are listening to, judging by those results, is it? It’s the one that the Prime Minister has kept saying.
CHAMALI FERNANDO: It was what the Prime Minister himself said, you go to bed with Nigel Farage and you wake up with Ed Miliband. So if people do want the referendum, and if they do want a proper cap on immigration they have to vote Conservative.
CHRIS MANN: Thank you all for joining me. We have to leave it there.