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.