Today’s ‘shock’ announcement of a Tory MP defecting to UKIP has been a bit of fun for all the non-Tories, but not entirely a shock in some respects. OK, so it wasn’t expected or even hinted at, but once you saw the headline, the identity of the MP in question was far from a shock. What really was a shock was the idea that he would stand down as an MP and the fact that the whole thing was a surprise, with no leaks, not even to the PM.
When the police can’t raid an ageing pop star’s home without the media getting tipped off and surrounding the place with photographers, it is quite an achievement for a political party to hold a press conference without the press knowing in advance what was being announced, even if UKIP did have to hint at something different in order to get them interested.
As for standing down as an MP, that is very interesting. Whenever somebody defects, whether an MP or a councillor, there are always calls for them to stand down, which always annoys me slightly. I don’t disagree that they ought to stand down, but I get frustrated that those yelling for it because ‘people voted for a xxx party candidate’ would often be the last to agree to changing the system so that we do actually vote for a party rather than a person. You can’t have it both ways.
Had Carswell not stood down then I imagine the Tories would have been very quick to say that he should do, so its quite amusing that, in anticipating this he has effectively called their bluff before they even made it, and left them in a right state. A real case of be careful what you wish for.
But if it is refreshing to see somebody prepared to actually resign and stand again under their new colours, even though it would have been easy to say that we are only 8 months away from an election anyway so let’s avoid the unnecessary expense of a byelection, I did think at the time that it was a bit presumptuous and arrogant to automatically assume that the new party would select him. What I didn’t know at the time was that UKIP already had a candidate, announded last month, even if they are now trying to pretend that they don’t.
I guess this is where the fun starts, as we find that Cardwell has simultaneously managed to stir up internal divisions within both the Tories and UKIP.
I try to imagine what would happen if Henry Smith suddenly announced that he was defecting to Labour. I can’t imagine any circumstance where Crawley Labour party would decide to ditch our current candidate for him, even if we liked Henry. Which we don’t.
What UKIP are saying now is that their NEC has approved Carswell and so the local party should go along with it. For all their talk of ‘cleaning up Westminster’ and ‘democratic reforms’ they are being very, very undemocratic if they force a selected candidate out and parachute somebody else in against the local party’s wishes. All very enlightening because they are not just showing themselves to be as bad as the other parties, but far worse. Fortunately they will never hold power, but can you imagine what they would be like if they did?
Farage says that Carswell’s decision is the ‘bravest and most honorouble’ he has seen in British politics. Well the standing down bit could be, but the announcement that he would be the new candidate, without telling, let alone consulting, the local party and possibly even the current candidate is certainly one of the rudest and most arrogant announcements in British politics. And they wonder why they just can’t shake that nasty party image…
I don’t know what will happen in the election. Obviously the best result would be for Labour to win, but there would be a lot of justice if Roger Lord stood as an independent and came second.