The Tories sneer at the people of Clacton at their peril

Matthew Parris has called on the Conservatives to ‘turn their backs’ on the people of Clacton

I have come to the opinion that it is critical, in the sake of the national interest, that someone should politely yet forcefully tell Matthew Parris to shut up. This is not an easy task and I can guarantee that Mr Parris will resent such advice; after all, he is a man who has spent his entire career offending others and craving publicity. However, his recent dismissal of the entire population of Clacton has proven that he should no longer be rewarded with the attention he so desperately seeks due to the toxic and intolerant nature of so many of the opinions he espouses.

For those who are blissfully unaware of Mr Parris’ existence, he is the former Conservative MP who, since leaving Parliament, has made a name for himself as one of Britain’s most outspoken and controversial political commentators, as well as being the man who ‘outed’ the former Labour minister Peter Mandelson. A suave and charming figure, Parris is indeed deeply knowledgeable and a fantastic journalist, but he is also the archetypal metropolitan liberal, a sneering and fully paid-up member of the London intelligentsia who is inherently distrustful of ordinary Britain, its inhabitants and their way of life.

This sneering distrust has most recently manifested itself in a recent article that Parris wrote for The Times in which he revealed the full extent of his disdain for the British working classes. Discussing the upcoming by-election in the Essex seaside town of Clacton, Parris launched into a tirade against the town and its people who he clearly believes are beneath the ambitions of the Conservative Party. According to Parris, the people of Clacton are simply too old, too poor and too uncultured; surely the mighty Tory machine has better things to do than attempting to woo such people?

In a way, he has a point. Clacton is indeed a place which is largely made up of older, poorer voters who are more likely to be seen eating fish and chips and swilling lager than attending one of the posh Hampstead dinner parties favoured by Parris and his friends. But why does this mean that the Conservatives have any right to, as Parris so grotesquely put it, ‘turn their backs’ on such people?

Never mind that the people of Clacton make up the ‘Essex man’ demographic so crucial to Margaret Thatcher’s three election wins. Never mind that Clacton is a solidly Conservative seat (Douglas Carswell’s majority in 2010 was over 12,000). Never mind that the Conservative Party is supposedly concerned with bettering the lives of all people across the nation. No, these facts are irrelevant to the likes of Matthew Parris, who seem to be genuinely terrified of anything that doesn’t resemble London’s more cultured and affluent areas.

This phobia of ordinary Britain is what makes Tories such as Parris indistinguishable from their Labour and Liberal Democrat counterparts who also cling to the Hampstead cocktail party circuit and show a staggering dislike of vast swathes of the British public. It is also what makes the Tory brand seem so toxic to those same people, reinforcing the ‘nasty party’ image and providing ammunition for populist groups such as UKIP. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that much of Nigel Farage’s appeal comes from the fact that he doesn’t inhabit the same exclusive world as the likes of Matthew Parris.

Not only does Parris dislike the people of Clacton and their way of life, he also fails to understand them. He cannot understand why anyone wouldn’t share his liberal and London-centric view of the world, and as a result he writes them off as extremist, swivel-eyed loons who are resistant to change. This is the precise reason why next month, the people of Clacton will elect their first non-Tory MP for decades; not because they have abandoned conservatism, but because they feel that they have been abandoned by the Conservative Party.

The views which are so prevalent in Clacton and similar towns may seem alien to Mr Parris, but for Nigel Farage these are the places where UKIP can break through and achieve electoral success at the Conservatives’ expense. This should be deeply troubling for David Cameron and the Tory hierarchy, as they will be acutely aware of the importance of having these seats and these voters onside next year if they are to remain in government.

Therefore it is indeed critical that we should shun the likes of Matthew Parris and the rest of the liberal intelligentsia who sneer at traditional working class voters with their seemingly backward and archaic views on issues such as gay rights and immigration. Regarding the people of Clacton, Parris concluded his article by claiming that the Conservative Party ‘should be careless of their opinions.’ However, in light of such arrogance it is clear that the only opinions that we should be careless of are those espoused by Parris and anyone else who seeks to ignore an important and often overlooked demographic.

George Reeves

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