Conservative Conference: The threatened defection to Ukip that lifted Tory hearts - by White Dee from Benefits Street (who votes Labour)

Nigel Farage’s latest potential recruit is Deirdre Kelly

Andy McSmith
Monday 29 September 2014 13:00

Another visitor to the Conservative conference has threatened to switch support to Ukip. But this time, the Tories were pleased to hear it.

Nigel Farage’s latest potential recruit is Deirdre Kelly, otherwise known as White Dee, who found fame through the Channel 4 documentary series, Benefits Street.

There was some grumbling among Tory representatives prior to her appearance in Bimringham. As one disgruntled ex-MP remarked: “We used to get world leaders coming at our conference paying tribute to Margaret (Thatcher). Now we get someone who is best known for drawing benefits.”

And much of what Ms Kelly told the packed fringe meeting, organised by the Think Tank Policy Exchange, was not calculated to please a true blue audience.

The Welfare and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is much loved by the Tory faithful, even if he was arguably the least successful leader the party has ever had. Tories admire his efforts to shake up the welfare. White Dee dismissed him as someone who is "out of touch with the real world."

Residents of James Turner Street such as White Dee will have a chance to share their experiences of benefits on a Channel 4 spin-off show

She was also critical of the announcement David Cameron made on Sunday that a future Conservative government would bar 18-21 years olds from claiming housing benefit and would remove their entitlement to jobseekers’ allowance if they have been out of work for six months or more. White Dee warned that this could cause hardship to adolescents who had done nothing wrong.

She claimed that finding work, particularly skilled jobs. has become harder under the coalition government and called for more apprenticeships.

She said: "I like to speak for myself but Mr Farage doesn't seem to be doing a bad job. He has had a few extra members joining recently, hasn't he?"

All this was heard politely, though it was not really what a Conservative audience wants to hear. The crowd-pleasing moment came when White Dee revealed that though she is a lifelong Labour voter, she is now thinking about voting Ukip. If you can’t find a good word for David Cameron, saying something to annoy Ed Miliband is the next best thing.

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