Some people have asked me for my opinion on the defection of Douglas Carswell to UKIP today. In short, I wasn’t nearly as surprised as some others by this news.
What is a surprise are the reasons he has given for his defection and the timing of it. Douglas Carswell is not merely a Euro skeptic; he is committed to withdrawing from the European Union under all circumstances.
There are those of us who have never been convinced by the EU project and are closer to the UKIP position than that of the Lib Dems on this issue. But the way to get the question answered once and for all is by supporting the Prime Minister and allowing him to renegotiate the terms of our membership and then voting on that new position in an in/out referendum.
By defecting to UKIP now Douglas Carswell has, in my opinion, demonstrated that either he doesn’t trust the British public with the decision to stay or go, or this is more about him than it is about his country.
He has spent much of his time in Parliament criticising the government so his Twittering and blogging about government policy as a member of UKIP will be no more disrupting than it is now. What will be different is he is now a very much larger fish in a somewhat smaller pond and perhaps that is really what this is all about.
Douglas Carswell and Nigel Farage talk about the ‘Establishment’ as though they are not part of it. If that were the case wouldn’t Carswell have stood as an independent in 2010 rather than stand on the Conservative Party ticket?
Conservative members and activists campaigned with him as a Conservative and voters elected him as a Conservative. Whatever the outcome of the by-election he will have let down those people down.
By defecting to UKIP Douglas Carswell has made an Ed Miliband led Government a more likely outcome at the general election. If that is the case he will have to live with the consequences of helping to elect a pro EU party and will never again be able to campaign for a withdrawal from the European Union with any credibility whatsoever.