“Carswell’s Ukip defection puts pressure on Cameron – Tory whips scramble to secure party against further departures after hardline Eurosceptic MP triggers Clacton on Sea by election” is yesterday’s Guardian headline and the first Google hit when I tried to get the run down of a story that broke earlier this week when sitting MP, Douglas Carswell, resigned his Tory seat and went over to UKIP.
People changing parties during the course of a sitting Parliament is nothing new of course. Winston Churchill did it in 1904 and then back again in 1924. The more contentious aspects are the reasons for swapping allegiance and whether standing down as MP and thereby calling a by-election is the right course of action, given the costs and hassle involved. Interestingly, while Europe was an issue, probably the main one, and in spite of the Tory promise for an in-out referendum if returned to power at the next General Election, there were a number of other issues, one of which is the dominance of a party elite that is not serving the best interests of the country on a variety of matters. Soon after this story broke, we read of another Tory defection to UKIP by a London councilor, which turned out to be the nineteenth to do so this year (15 from the Conservatives and 4 from Labour). While my General Election 2014 blog posting gave reasons why I am disinclined to vote Conservative, there would seem several other reasons for doing so, not even mentioned.
While some, particularly among loyal party members, have been critical over Carswell’s decision, valuing such things as loyalty, and giving vent by some accusing him of arrogance and self seeking, this is not something I am inclined to do, not knowing the man and all that led up to him deciding as he did. As for deciding to step down as MP, if it were me I would have continued. The reason is twofold: firstly, it was the person that was elected, not the party (although I accept most people are not like me who vote for the person ahead of the party he belongs to) and, secondly, in these times of economic austerity, I would rather save on the costs of holding a by election. I have no doubt though the reasons to stand down were more to highlight a point and cause further ripples in the current system, which will likely best serve the interests of UKIP. Another matter that came to light after Carswell stood down, and indicated his intention to standing in the soon to be contested by election, and needs to be dealt with, is that there is already another UKIP member that has been selected to contest the Clacton seat at the next General Election, who reports indicate, is not prepared to give way.
As with almost every news story, other news soon comes to light that remove such matters from the public eye. Yet this story has to be added to the mix as we consider the build up to the next General Election, the issues that need addressing and consider the possible outcomes. It will be interesting to see how the other parties, in particular the Conservatives, respond. As I have stated before, I am not Conservative (but then I am neither Labour nor Lib Dem), and I am not UKIP either, at least until I do a lot more thinking and finding out more about their policies, right across the board.
After the disappointing results of the recent European and local elections as far as the main parties, especially the Conservatives, went, I urged them to learn and take heed from the lessons arising out of those results. It seems they haven’t. I doubt they will do so pertaining to this matter either. And that will be a shame!