political

How the Liberal Democrats should respond to UKIP

Here’s what I told The Observer in a necessarily brief piece given their word limit:

Bristol in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of brizzle born and bred on Flickr. Some rights reserved. http://www.flickr.com/photos/brizzlebornandbred/8542861238/The anti-establishment rage this time may have been picked up by an anti-European right-wing party, but in other times and in other countries similar protests have taken other political forms. So wise Liberal Democrats will respond to that underlying issue – and the need for a fairer, stronger economy and a more responsive political system – rather than start talking up right wing stances on immigration or Europe.

Some of UKIP’s support comes from places the Liberal Democrat should leave well alone – especially those yearning for a 1950s-style society of white men at work, white women at home and gays in the closet.

But that support which comes from feeling stripped of political power and facing economic tough times is exactly the support the Liberal Democrat should look to win over. It’s a task the party should face with guarded optimism for as the results in places such as Oxfordshire and Pendle have shown, the party is able to make progress where it listens carefully, campaigns intensively and doesn’t stop when polling day is over.

What’s your view?