I have written before that I think as a matter of principle that anyone who is elected but who decides to change their political allegiance should resign and go back to their electorate to seek re-election with their new party hat on. I firmly believe this is the case at both local and national level. This goes for members of any party going to members of any other party or indeed independents joining a party or vice versa.
This morning Douglas Carswell resigned from the Conservative Party and promptly joined UKIP. However in doing so he also resigned from his parliamentary seat and said that he intended to seek re-election as a UKIP MP in the by-election.
All I can say to him is essentially well played and no-one can really complain. He was indeed my MP very briefly when I lived in Harwich in 2005-2006, a seat he won in a very tight contest in 2005 from Labour. Due to boundary changes he took on the Clacton seat, much of which encompasses his former Harwich seat. He won very tightly in 2005 but he waltzed away with it in 2010 with over 50% of the vote and a majority in excess of 12,000.
Clacton profiles as traditionally a very safe Conservative seat but it also falls into the trap of profiling as a potential slip up seat if UKIP really surged. Plenty of the older generation live in this seat and could easily be swung to UKIP. The big problem the Tories have is that Douglas Carswell is a genuinely popular guy locally and plenty of his activist base and his voters will go with him due to the fact that they like him personally.
This is going to essentially be a flash vote based on Europe. He has left the Conservative Party based mainly on the fact he thinks that the party are not serious about change in terms of our relationship with the European Union. That is what he’ll campaign on. Real change between the UK and the EU. Scarily he could come through and pull it off.
Whatever I think about his politics though, you can’t knock how he has gone about this (bar maybe the fact he seemingly didn’t tell David Cameron about this in advance – that reeks of a lack of class). He is going back to the voters in Clacton and giving them the option of voting him back into Parliament. I suspect they may well do as the UKIP protest vote is still very much out there and couple that with a personal vote and they could well win.
Of course even if they don’t win, this move keeps UKIP very much in the news over the next few weeks. Whatever we all may think of Nigel Farage and his press team, you would struggle to really criticise how they run their media game. The BBC are wooed by them and the other news organisations aren’t too far behind. They find ways to keep their story, propaganda, manifesto, policies, whatever you call it, they find a way to keep it in the news and the more they do that, the more people are likely to start to believe that they can actually deliver on their promises.
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