In my new book, Protest Vote, I tell the story of how politicians have lost touch with their voters—lost the plot—and how protest vote parties and grassroots campaign groups have fought back.
Ever since Matthew Elliott founded the TPA ten years ago, it has been at the forefront of a revolution in the way we express our view on government and the way our country is run. When I first joined the TPA, I was thoroughly fed up with conventional party politics. Politicians were turning their back on grassroots supporters, convinced they know better than the ordinary voter. The TPA has been part of a popular uprising giving power back to disenchanted voters, allowing them to have an impact on government policy and rein in out of control public expenditure.
Through candid interviews with key political figures from Nigel Farage of UKIP to Sara Parkin of the Green Party, in Protest Vote I tell for the first time the colourful story of the rise of Britain’s protest movements against the political establishment, and the maverick leaders that express this tide of discontent. My book pinpoints the moments—from mass immigration to the Europe Union—when the arrogance of mainstream politicians lost them voters—and how this has changed politics in Britain forever.
I interviewed Matthew Elliott for my book and he tells the fascinating story of the evolution of the TPA from its early days meeting in cafés.
‘Basically, the trend is that all political parties don’t want to give their activists much of a say,’ explains Elliott. ‘Frankly, they’re embarrassed by them. They don’t like debates at party conference because they can’t control what people are going to say. They would much rather activists pay their subs, give their donations, deliver their leaflets and have no opinions of their own. Which is why membership numbers for all political parties are going down. What people like about everything from Conservative Home to the TPA is that there is a vibrant debate there. If you’re just there as fodder for delivering leaflets, why do it?’
‘When parties started clamping down on dissent within parties, that’s when pressure groups became more appealing,’ he continues. ‘People would go for single-issue pressure groups. They could see how they make a difference in politics, they satisfy their interest in politics, and they don’t have to sign up to all the things they disagree with within a political party.’
Thanks to Matthew Elliott and a few other far-sighted political figures, the voter is getting back his and her voice. If you want to know more about this process, I tell the full story in Protest Vote.