Driven by data; ridden with liberty.
Clacton MP Douglas Carswell has defected from the Conservatives to join the UK Independence Party (UKIP). The MP cited the party press releases on political reform not metamorphosing into policy, and the stagnant desires for improving the European Union (EU). Mr Carswell said:
As someone who has always answered directly to the independent-minded people of Essex, there’s only one honourable thing for me to do – I must seek permission from my boss, the people of Clacton. I will now resign from parliament and stand for UKIP in the by-election that must follow.
In response to Mr Carswell’s defection, the Prime Minister David Cameron said it was “deeply regrettable”, reiterating a common refrain:
If you want a referendum on Britain’s future in the EU, whether we should stay or go, the only way to get that is to have a Conservative government after the next election.
Douglas Carswell, coupled with the South West MEP Daniel Hannan, spearheaded the ‘direct democracy’ movement within the Conservative party. Their books, Direct Democracy: An Agenda for a New Model Party and The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain, argued that state power was too centralised and unbroken by ballot boxes. Their reformist proposals included “elected sheriffs”, now called Police and Crime Commissioners; an elected upper house; holding local and national referenda; increased fiscal autonomy for local councils and – to the consternation of Labour politicians – offering different models of healthcare provision. In particular, Douglas Carswell penned the healthcare chapter in Direct Democracy, writing:
The aim of government should be to guarantee access, irrespective of people’s ability to pay, to essential services.
This is not the first time a Conservative MP announced a defection to UKIP. In 2008, Bob Spink left the Conservative party and was assumed to have joined UKIP. According to a UKIP spokesperson, Dr Spink had a UKIP membership card, but paid no fees. Later, Dr Spink sat as an independent MP.[tweet https://twitter.com/Survation/status/505850294526574592]
Survation, for the Mail on Sunday, efficiently conducted a poll of 700 Clacton residents. It found 64% of decided voters were supporting UKIP. In comparison, 20% backed the Conservatives and only 13% were voting Labour. Whilst UKIP are often seen as a vessel for political protest, 57% of UKIP intenders were mainly favouring the party because they “like UKIP and support their policies”; only 9% wanted to “send a message of protest to the government”.
UKIP will soon have their first MP.