As I sat at my desk on Thursday morning, I saw on Breitbart London, for which I write, announcing the defection of Douglas Carswell to UKIP. The collective intake and exhaling of breath in the press conference was audible from seasoned hacks, as a new chapter in British and probably European history gets a new heading.
Carswell (pictured) could have gone for the option of remaining Clacton’s MP until May 2015, but on principle is looking to be immediately re-elected to legitimise his UKIP ticket. He appears to be a country mile ahead with 64% of voters choosing him in an opinion poll. The fact that he had real jobs in investment management and as a corporate developer in broadcasting only increases his appeal.
This is proof positive that he is a very popular local MP with a thriving constituency which is growing rather than shrinking – he increased his majority from 920 in 2005 to 12,068 in 2010. Carswell has a desire to engage Clacton’s people in politics; out of conviction has captured his electorate with 53% of all votes cast.
Some local Tory parties are a lesson in classism, with a simple dinner making members nervous about whether black tie or lounge suits attire is the more appropriate. As an anecdote, Carswell is unpretentious and attends events such as curry nights where the simple message is one of inclusivity.
Carswell writes on his post resignation blog entitled “It’s time for change” six areas of contention – the proper recall of MPs, control of our borders, cutting public debt, banking reform, less government and an EU referendum, and goes onto list a whole gamut of Tory failures, especially on the NHS. However Carswell gives us the truth about LibLabCon that we have instinctively known for decades: they are more interested in power and privilege than making the country a better place for us all.
The people who rule us are a tiny clique and each party in turn occupies the same sofa. He adds: “Few are animated by principle or passion. Many are just in it for themselves. They seek every great office yet believe in so little. Only UKIP can change this. Only UKIP can shake up the cosy little clique called Westminster.”
A Westminster insider who has expertise in the British constitution told me Cameron’s “cast iron guarantee” could not be more disingenuous. The Lisbon Treaty was passed by Parliament and the Lords, and constitutionally he had no right offer a vote. Cameron was wilfully and knowingly misleading the people.
As Carswell notes: “Ministers have specifically ruled out a trade-only arrangement with the EU. The Prime Minister said so specifically at a meeting of the (backbench) 1922 (Committee). It won’t even be on the table.”
It seems that Carswell’s defection may encourage les autres. At my comprehensive’s mock General Election in 1979, against a plague of armchair socialists, I stood as the Tory candidate and surprisingly won, considering the Labour posters festooning the sixth form notice wall. It was after 34 years of loyal voting Tory and in the 2010 election standing as a Tory in the council elections, delivering leaflets and banging on doors, that in 2013 I finally had enough of policies I could not agree with and joined UKIP. The camel-backbreaking straw was Cameron flirting with minimum priced alcohol and plain cigarette packaging.
I have briefly met Carswell on a few occasions. He may only vaguely recognise my face, let alone remember my name, but when I was with the Tories we were both a part of the Progressive Conservatives, the libertarian grouping of the Conservative Party. Interestingly, another colleague then was Donna Edmunds, also of this parish. Previously I had first met him in 2009 when as chairman of Freedom2Choose, a pro choice smoking group. We had been approached by a local pub landlord to help lobby Carswell to amend the smoking ban. I remember him saying: “I do not want to tell people whether to smoke or not.”
He is charming, deeply intellectual and passionate about devolving the government’s power to the people along with their taxes. Government is the problem, not the solution, none more so than the deeply illiberal European Union. It is we Carswell trusts, not the clique sitting on the sofa playing musical chairs.
Cameron has all but lied to us on a referendum, he has failed to tackle the underlining problems of the UK and has alienated much of the Tory’s natural membership and intellectual soul of his party. UKIP have gained an astonishingly respected and capable MP.
We are blessed.