The defection of Douglas Carswell was great news. However we must be wary. Whilst I believe that Carswell defected for all the right reasons, others following him might not. Carswell had not altered his opinions, but the Tory party had moved away from him, and he remained true to his convictions.
I feel sorry for the selected candidate for Clacton, Roger Lord, and I think that this situation could have been handled a bit better as far as he is concerned. But I think that this is an opportunity that cannot be missed and the greater good of the party (and eventually the country) has to be given priority over the individual. A Westminster seat before the general election will give us a much bigger voice during the election campaign. This may, however, prove an advantage for Roger. In a general election Roger would have little chance of succeeding against Carswell in Clacton, due to his personal popularity there, but if he can be selected for another constituency he may have a better chance by virtue of a sympathy vote for the way he has been treated. I sincerely hope to see both men in Westminster next May.
So much for the advantages of the situation. There is talk of other Tories coming over to us, and while this sounds like good news it may be the start of something not quite so advantageous to the party. What we have to beware of in the future is rats leaving a sinking Tory ship, and trying to use UKIP as a vehicle to maintain their parliamentary meal tickets. We must be very careful about the sincerity of Tory defectors, even if they bring a parliamentary seat with them. Most of the rats that defect will be concerned solely with their own interests, and should not cause much trouble, but we must beware of Trojan horse sleepers that join the party to try and change our policy on the EU or try to inflict as much damage to the party as possible. We must carefully examine the voting records and past statements of any Tory who wants to defect.
Those who appear to be insincere, but bring a parliamentary seat with them, should be allowed to join, but it must be made clear to them that their defection is not an automatic guarantee that they will be selected as candidates for any constituency in future elections. This should weed out those who want to join us purely to further their own interests and don’t give a hoot about their constituents. The whole essence of UKIP is to get rid of the venal, corrupt occupants of Westminster, and replace them with honest UKIP members, who can be trusted to do their best for their constituents. Putting the same people back in Westminster, albeit under new management, may not go down too well with the electorate, and lose us votes.
There is also something else to be considered. We are never going to get to be a significant presence in Westminster unless we can attract a significant amount of the Labour vote. We are not going to appeal to Labour voters if we seem to be morphing into a Tory party mark two. Hopefully our policies will appeal to the ordinary working man who makes up a lot of the Labour vote, and probably feels betrayed by Labour. We must not be seen to be cosying up to the Tories, and there should be NO DEALS with any Tory MPs in the general election.
Politically, we live in interesting times. If we play our cards right we can make a real impression on British politics. I hope that the scenarios that I have described above will not materialise for us to fall into such pitfalls. I look forward to seeing Douglas Carswell totally demolish the Lib/Lab/Con at the Clacton By Election, and hope it is the first of many such results.