Carswell defection will bolster UKIP’s bid to become a ‘serious’ Westminster player…

The calculation amongst those closest to David Cameron has been that the UKIP blip will blow over. The loss of the right winger Douglas Carswell (who true to his own strong democratic principles has resigned his Clacton seat to fight it as a UKIPer) must be worrying.

Carswell, as well as a parliamentary asset (Ladbrokes are quoting 1/3 on for him to retain his seat) is also an considered intellectual and serious thinker on national politics and political reform which UKIP desperately need to bolster its credibility as a serious force at Westminster.

A decent showing in the local elections in several areas as well as Nigel Farage standing in an eminently winnable seat in Kent adds up to a very very awkward development for Cameron. Isabel Hardman in the Spectator notes

There are many huge ripples from this defection. But the Conservative party will have to consider how on earth to respond to Carswell, a popular MP who has increased local Tory membership and his majority.

He is a maverick, for sure, but a maverick through deep thinking and intellectual self-confidence. And that is difficult to dismiss. There are many backbenchers whose defections would have been easier to wave off.

Quite so. He’s also seen as a man of honest conviction as opposed to the pragmatist Cameron.

There will, no doubt, be some very interesting times ahead.


  • Aaron Aababab

    UKIP are a raceist party. If Mr Carswell wants to throw his lot in with them then he will reap what he’s sown.

  • Jurassic Parke

    This really is big news, and the fact that this has made it onto Slugger shows Mick knows it.
    UKIP gain from this on a myriad of levels- immediately, they’re back in the spotlight for a while. Then councillors from Carswell’s constituency may defect- who knows about other MPs.
    Then Carswell is bookies’ favourite to win the byelection in the middle of conference season, meaning that UKIP have an elected MP before the general election which may affect voters’ willingness to vote UKIP in 2015.

    Interestingly from a NI perspective, I read somewhere that, if he gained a significant number of Westminster seats, Farage is mulling a pact with the DUP to create a Europhobe bloc in Westminster.

  • Michael Henry

    Carswell grew up in Africa- his home was in Uganda until his early teens- he should go down well with the local UKIP nuts-

    Any wonder he thinks he has a point to prove-he wants to be more English than the English –

  • Iluvni

    Never has a zzzzzzzzzzzzz been more appropriate.

  • mickfealty

    Interesting point made by Dan Hannan over a week ago in this regard

    Now ask yourself the critical question. Is it possible to carry a referendum in favour of Brexit if all (or almost all) the “no” campaigners are in Ukip? The answer is surely obvious. The only way to win is with the support of some people who vote Conservative, some who vote Labour, some who vote Green and even a few who vote Liberal Democrat.

  • Jurassic Parke

    Yes in the 2017 referendum scenario, I believe Farage has acknowledged that it would hurt the out cause if it were exclusively UKIP. I think he’s muted (no links again, possibly his indy column) not leading the campaign himself (like Cameron in Scotland) and using a more cross party group, Frank Field and Hannan being suitable candidates for that task I would have thought.

  • Alex McLeish

    Yup, it you disagree with someone’s opinions about immigration just call them a racist. That’ll shut them up and make them less willing to speak out in the future.

    I’m sure that 1400 young girls in Rotherham would agree.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    What is a “raceist” party, do they participate in races such as sprints etc?

  • Gerry Lynch

    Clacton is the sort of place where UKIP could have been competitive anyway. There’s no point pretending this isn’t a major coup for them – as long as they win the by-election.

  • Michael Henry

    Roger Lord the UKIP candidate who Carswell thought he had he replaced has said today that he might run for the Tory party against Carswell- swings and roundabouts-

  • MalcolmRedfellow

    Carswell defection will bolster UKIP’s bid to become a ‘serious’ Westminster player.

    Really! Really?

    Did the election, in a full General Election, — not defection — of Caroline Lucas in Brighton, Pavilion, against four Party opposition, and against “Leo Atrides” (I still can’t take that one seriously) make the Green Party a ‘serious’ Westminster player?

    Did Naomi Long in East Belfast or Sylvia Hermon in North Down made either of them ‘serious’ Westminster players?

    This is the politics of froth.

    Even were the Kippers to take (at the top end of every prediction) three seats — not half of one percent of Commons membership — at next May’s General Election, what rights of audience, let alone power, does that give them?

    No: the issue is first and foremost that the Tory Party is on the edge of a split (this time over the EU) that hasn’t been witnessed since 27th January 1846, when Peel announced the repeal of the Corn Laws. And that, Mr Fealty, is far more important than the War of Carswell’s dubious loyalty.

  • mickfealty

    Yeah, maybe. Feels more constitutional than that to me: like a minor unravelling of the old pre WWI Liberal Unionist/Tory merger. Swallows and summer though Malc. I only suggested it was a bid for seriousness.

    Though I thought Wheelers reference to the uselessness of unemployed MP was a deliberate attempt to introduce little darkness into the proceedings.

    Dark skies everywhere these days.

  • mickfealty

    I’ve seen someone somewhere today arguing that Boris should exercise himself in Clacton, for the sake of the party…

  • Comrade Stalin

    The Boris point is very interesting and it crossed my mind yesterday. If he doesn’t throw his hat in the ring it will be taken as evidence that the Conservatives are afraid that they’ll lose.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Pink undies Joe.

  • Roy Walsh

    I suspect this is a reaction to the Tories leader inability to win the last British election and a fear they might do less well next time out, even with an unpopular official opposition leader.
    I half suspect as the old Tory hegemony in South east Britain is seen as threatened by the growth of UKIP and this may result in other frightened back benchers doing similarly to save their own bacon.