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British MP Defects to UKIP – It’s Our Money You’re Spending, Mate!

August 30, 2014


I’ve seen plenty of comment about the defection of the British MP Douglas Carswell from the Conservative Party to UKIP, the party of warm beer, village greens and impenetrable borders. One aspect doesn’t seem to have been raised as an issue. So I’m raising it.

Apparently Mr Carswell has been plotting with UKIP’s chief gnome, Nigel Farage for several months about the timing of his defection. For reasons discussed at length elsewhere in the media, the time is now. So the principled – or prodigal depending on your viewpoint – MP is resigning his seat and standing in a by-election as a UKIP candidate. He will most likely win.

Now there’s a long tradition of MP’s changing allegiance during the lifetime of a Parliament. Winston Churchill did it twice. In 1981 twenty eight Labour MPs, many of them far more significant figures than Mr Carswell, defected to the newly-formed Social Democratic Party. All of them remained in their seats until the next general election and stood on behalf of their new parties when everybody else was up for election. But our man has chosen, as a matter of honour apparently, to resign now and fight a bye-election. It’s very obvious why he’s doing this. He wants to generate lots of publicity for his new best friends by means of a campaign that will clearly attract plenty of media attention. Honour has nothing to do with it. It’s a cynical ploy, and the people of Clacton, his constituency, are unwitting participants.

If Mr Carswell had any sense of honour, he would take the view that he could make enough noise by remaining in Parliament without having to trigger a bye-election, and thereby save the tax-payer the expense of funding a costly and unnecessary contest. The cost of organising an election is peanuts compared with the bucket loads of public money wasted by governments of all stripes over the years, but I do object to the arrogance with which he and his buddies blithely dip into the national purse to stage what in effect is a publicity stunt.

If I was a British political party leader, I would put up no candidate against Mr Carswell, so that he ended up arguing against himself. That would expose the contest as the meaningless farce that it is. But then I can’t see any of them taking a stand against this cynical manipulation of the electoral system. After all, they might want to use the same ploy themselves at some time in the future.

I will take our political system over most others in the world, but boy, our politicians do let us down from time to time….

From → Politics, UK

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