Page last updated at 16:01 GMT, Tuesday, 12 May 2009 17:01 UK

Boycott big parties, says Tebbit

Lord Tebbit: 'Voters can remove MPs from the House of Commons'

Former Conservative Party chairman Lord Tebbit is urging people to boycott the major political parties at next month's European elections.

Lord Tebbit said voters were angry with MPs and urged them to "teach the big parties a lesson".

He held back from endorsing one of the smaller parties but stressed that he did not want people to vote BNP.

Tory leader David Cameron later warned the peer he was risking being kicked out of the Conservative group of peers.

Mr Cameron added that, as a former party chairman, Lord Tebbit was aware of the importance of party discipline.

Lord Tebbit is 'treading a very careful path' says David Cameron

But Lord Tebbit said he was not necessarily urging people to vote against the Conservatives, saying: "They might choose to sit at home".

And he denied suggestions he was effectively backing the UK Independence Party, which campaigns for Britain's exit from the EU, and preparing to leave the Conservatives.

"The Conservative Party has, at times, looked as though it wanted to leave me but I have never wanted to leave the Conservative Party."

He urged voters to "teach the big parties a lesson" and "show them who is master" but he said his call would be heard by Labour and Lib Dem supporters as much as Conservatives so any effect at the ballot box would be "evenly spread".

'Powerful shot'

He said he would be urging people to vote Tory at the general election and also suggested people should vote in the English local elections, which are also being held on 4 June, "as they normally do".

Explaining his position on the Today programme, Lord Tebbit said: Today: "What I am advising people is to show the major parties that it is the electors who are masters and the electors are extremely upset with their employees in the House of Commons and I said don't vote for the major parties."

FROM THE TODAY PROGRAMME

He added: "The leaders of the major parties would be reminded that the electors can quite easily show their displeasure."

Asked if there was a danger of damaging democracy, he said: "There is nothing wrong with the House of Commons. The institution is sound. It is in good order.

"What is wrong is that the people who are currently in it are misbehaving. They need a pretty powerful shot across their bows."

'Welfare junkies'

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Lord Tebbit said Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs had behaved "like welfare junkies" addicted to abusing their Commons expenses.

He told the newspaper: "People could vote green, they could vote for all sorts of wider people or they could choose not to vote at all."

Nick Robinson
The expenses saga is turning out to be a political game changer
Nick Robinson
BBC political editor

He said the only message politicians understood was when voters refused to back them.

Lord Tebbit was one of Lady Thatcher's closest supporters during her time in Downing Street and remains one of the leading voices on the Eurosceptic right wing of the Conservative Party.

The Daily Telegraph publishes what it calls the most extravagant claims published yet in its series of stories based on leaked MPs' receipts, including the cost of swimming pool maintenance claimed by eight Tory MPs.

The Telegraph has already published claims made by Labour and Conservative frontbenchers in recent days - after details of all 646 MPs' claims were leaked.

There is a wider range of smaller parties standing at this year's European poll than ever before, including new parties such as the pan-European Libertas, which wants wholesale reform of the EU, the trade-union backed NO2EU, and the Jury Team, which has selected candidates through text and e-mail votes.

There are also more established parties such as UKIP, the Greens, the English Democrats, the Christian Peoples Alliance and the BNP.



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