Over the summer, the MP that serves my constituency decided to step down from his position, triggering a by-election, before immediately re-nominating himself as a UKIP candidate. For a town that last made column inches a couple of years ago when the Police mistook a domestic cat called Teddy Bear for an escaped lion, this is kind of a big deal.
But Carswell’s decision causes some fairly big problems. Firstly, he seems ignorant, or maybe blithely indifferent, to the fact that he was elected, by the people of Clacton, to represent them as a representative of the Conservative Party, for a period of five (albeit miserable) years.
Carswell’s defence against this allegation is that he has resigned from his position as a Conservative MP and will now seek re-election as a UKIP MP, giving the fine people of Clacton a choice to re-appoint him on his new terms. In Carswell’s opinion, this is an act of respect and good faith: good sport and jolly hockey sticks and three cheers for veritable old Dougie, that sort of thing.
But there’s still an issue here. For how long, exactly, has Carswell been harbouring those treacherous thoughts of his? Has Carswell duped Clacton? Leading us to believe that he was a member of the Conservative Party, whilst all the while colligating and plotting with UKIP, deciding when best to launch this publicity stunt; isolating himself and potentially marginalizing the interests of his constituency.
For how long, exactly, has Carswell been harbouring those treacherous thoughts of his? Has Carswell duped Clacton?
Carswell now believes the top of the Tory party to be against him. However, both Carswell and the majority of his constituents seemed to believe that they were indeed on “our side”, back in 2010. If Carswell wants to road-test his personally held new found opinions, shouldn’t he wait until 2015, much like the rest of the nation? Furthermore, is this impromptu vanity-show of a by-election not a huge waste of taxpayers’ money?
Although shoddy to the extreme, Carswell’s defection isn’t the main issue at hand here. For, if we place his shameless careerism to one side for a moment, which he clearly prioritises above his constituency, we must face up to the fact that the UK Independence Party now stand a chance of becoming an even more tangible force in British politics.
A party that was originally just a poorly disciplined ramshackle group of bigots and idiots, supported by the kind of muppet who props themselves up against the bar in your local pub before ranting on about how Britain used to be great once upon a time, and about the evils of immigration and the wonders of the ‘Australian points system’ (not that anybody really knows what that is, exactly); are on the verge of having their first MP. And having an MP is undoubtedly more credible than having a few ineffectual MEP’s.
Even worse is that my town of Clacton is set to be the battleground of this grimy little political scrape. And Clacton really, really doesn’t need a party like UKIP in power, no matter what the mainstream media may have led you to believe over the last few weeks. When you get all those casually racist pier-plodding pensioners out of the way (interestingly, the only people the regional BBC news programme seemed interesting in interviewing), you come to realise that, contrary to Carswell’s misguided opinion, UKIP make an awful fit for the town.
Carswell himself doesn’t offer any real change, only a laborious, inflexible commitment to his deeply personal political cause.
Crucially, it seems that Carswell apparently fails to understand that a vote cast in his direction does not unilaterally result in a mandate to claim that the people of his constituency want to leave the EU. That’s his pipe dream, not necessarily the people of Clacton’s.
And then it’s difficult to really judge other UKIP policies, because not many really exist. A quick look at their 2014 local manifesto, which looks a bit like it was designed by someone learning Microsoft Publisher for the first time in a silver surfer IT class, reveals a deliberately vague set of promises to toughen up law and order and to support low taxes, and nothing much more.
UKIP, and by extension Carswell, simply don’t possess what the Clacton constituency requires: an answer to unemployment, violent crime and a growing demand for infrastructure to support expanding housing projects.
Carswell claims that UKIP represent a change from the “cozy Westminster elite”. But UKIP, with their half-baked “bizarre neoliberal policy measures”, simply don’t offer the kind required. And anyway, Carswell himself doesn’t offer any real change, only a laborious, inflexible commitment to his deeply personal political cause. Clacton requires change, yes, but it requires- deserves- a better kind of change. Perhaps the people of Clacton can begin that process by refusing to re-elect Douglas Carswell.