Poll: Is Clacton a town that’s going nowhere?

UKIP leader Nigel Farage accompanies former Tory MP for Clacton, Douglas Carswell on a walkabout in

UKIP leader Nigel Farage accompanies former Tory MP for Clacton, Douglas Carswell on a walkabout in the Essex seaside town - Credit: PA

A former Conservative MP’s comments that “Tories should turn their backs on Clacton” has prompted a staunch defence of the town from its politicians.

Matthew Parris wrote in his column for The Times on Saturday that “Clacton-on-Sea is going nowhere” and the Conservatives should be “careless” of its voters’ opinions in the upcoming by-election.

Although he acknowledges the “helpfulness” of the people, their friendly attitude and the “evidence of local pride”, he also describes the town as “Britain on crutches”.

“This is tracksuit-and-trainers Britain, tattoo-parlour Britain, all-our-yesterdays Britain,” he writes.

The derogatory descriptions has been rejected by the Conservative group leader at Tendring District Council, Mike Page, who has highlighted a range of measures his party has invested in the town as evidence of its potential.

“Locally, Conservatives are delivering for Clacton, Frinton, Jaywick and the surrounding towns and village,” he said.

“This includes the £36m investment in the sea defences, the extra cash to fix the potholes and local road and up to £10m for the major new regeneration in Jaywick.

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“We believe that Clacton’s best days are ahead of it and only by backing the work the Conservatives are doing locally and nationally will we deliver a better future for our area.”

Mr Parris’s backhanded compliment that “UKIP make a good fit for Clacton” as a place “not getting where a 21st-century Britain needs to be going”, has also been with criticism.

Douglas Carswell, the town’s former Conservative MP whose defection to UKIP prompted the by-election, said Mr Parris’s comments were “reflective of what so many in the upper echelons of the Tory party really think”.

“All over the country we are hearing about voters who have been left behind, but I think if you read Mr Parris’s piece, which is really quite patronising, it’s not that they have been left behind, it’s that they have been consciously ignored,” he added.

“All parties, the Conservative party, Labour, they’ve all become the private parties of cliques.

• The Liberal Democrats announced their candidate for the by-election over the weekend.

Andy Graham, a writer of children’s books and a professional actor, who has also taught in the town, will be contesting the seat.

Labour had already selected Tim Young to contest the seat.