Thursday, 28 August 2014

Carswell Defects To UKIP

"[The Tory] Parliamentary majority was slashed from a healthy 100 to a - by comparison - fairly feebly twenty. If the truth be told, John Major and the rest of us were relieved to achieve even that result. It was a workable majority, or so the PM thought. The debates on the Maastricht Treaty would prove otherwise. With a majority of 100 a rebellion would have been futile. But with twenty, a group of determined backbenchers can change government policies. The government can no longer allow itself the luxury of doing just as it likes"
Teresa Gorman MP, "The Bastards".
In news that has seemingly come out of the 'blue', Douglas Carswell has defected to UKIP. In some ways this is not really surprising. His political views have increasingly been at odds with the party he represents. It maybe more a factor that the party has left him not that he has left the party. As we remember he is one of the few Tory MPs to vote against EU measures.

However we also remember that Carswell has not been entirely consistent in EU views, often clearly putting his party first above his 'principles'. He has backed Cameron when it is readily apparent that Cameron is not only a Europhile but has no intention of being a Prime Minister that leads the UK out of the EU. Despite Cameron's clear deception on the issue Carswell noted in January 2014 he was wrong to rebel against the party line:
“What is it we now want, guys? We’re going to face a reckoning with the electorate in just over a year’s time. We’re two points behind the Labour Party. We can do this – we really can do this. If we lack discipline, we’re going to have five or six appalling years in opposition to dwell on it”
The Spectator concludes as a result of the interview:
Here’s a sneak preview of what was supposed to be a debate about the wisdom of rebelling – but ended up being Carswell explaining why he believes his colleagues should now stop defying the government, and support the PM.
And this was the same man who in 2012 that claimed (my emphasis):
One of the reasons I backed David Cameron to be party leader early on in his leadership campaign was because I wanted to see a different kind of Conservatism. I still do – and I’d vote for him to deliver it if there was a leadership contest tomorrow. 
Even though there is obvious evidence that Cameron is not...
...a secret patriot waiting for the chance to rip off his expensive tailoring and reveal his inner Thatcher. He is exactly what he looks like, an unprincipled chancer with limited skills in public relations".
So with this in mind we have a couple of observations or more accurately a number of questions regarding Carswell's motives.

The first is why defect? As it currently stands (and currently is the operative word) the Tories are the only party in a position to possibly win the next General Election who offers an in/out referendum on membership of the EU. Labour have chosen not to unless there's a new Treaty and the Lib Dems... well they, to no-one's surprise, have no intention of doing so.

As we have noted on here before Cameron has categorically promised a referendum in 2017 and one in circumstances which are most favourable to the "outers":
Thus the EU is in a mess, Cameron has been shown up publicly that he cannot deliver on reform or influence and he almost certainly cannot recommend an "in" vote in 2017. Add to that his general incompetence and it's difficult to envisage a better framework for the 'outers' to win a referendum. The chances of winning a referendum has improved significantly.
Understandably there is much scepticism of Cameron's promises given the "cast iron" one over Lisbon - which turned out to be one of Cameron's greatest mistakes and which more than likely cost him the 2010 election.

However political reality suggests that he won't have much choice to attempt to try the same again. Poll ratings, Labour bias in the electoral system and Labour's superior ability to manipulate the postal vote means if the Tories do win the next election any majority they gain will be relatively small in number.

With this in mind we refer to Teresa Gorman's quote above that a small majority gives the backbenchers far more power over the government - "the government can no longer allow itself the luxury of doing just as it likes". Nothing illustrates this better than the constant rebellions over current coalition government policies such as the EU rebellions over an EU referendum.

In other words, with a small majority the political reality would be that Cameron will be forced to hold a referendum on terms which will be the most favourable possible for the 'out' camp. This is reflected in the fact that Cameron only promised an EU referendum precisely because he is "unprincipled chancer". He will do what ever his party tells him particularly with a small majority.

Of course we are under no illusions of the Tory track record on the EU or that party positions might change in the meantime, but as it stands:
  • A vote for Labour is EU membership

  • A vote for UKIP is EU membership by virtue of they can't possibly get enough MPs based on current poll ratings

  • A vote for Lib Dems is EU membership
  • A vote for Tories is a possible referendum we can win.
We wonder therefore why Carswell has jumped ship, just under a year away from a General Election, when statistically a Tory win might give him the EU exit he craves?

We appreciate that we're in the middle of silly season and crucially the news is understandably being dominated by the appalling deficiency of Rotherham Council and Police. So why would Carswell defect when he maybe unable to guarantee dominate coverage to ensure Cameron is fully embarrassed? The answer may lie in the fact that the Tory party conference is taking place towards the end of September which is four weeks away. If the by-election is moved quickly it will occur just in time for the result to be the main discussion point at the Tory conference.

In addition intriguingly via a by-election Carswell might ensure that by winning he would become the first elected UKIP MP - UKIP defections have occurred before of course but not with an electoral mandate. Carswell winning a by-election would pose a problem for Farage, if not a threat. For a man who has made UKIP his own party it could be that the first elected UKIP MP would not be himself - "let's make history" Farage's latest email says:
Last night I was selected by local party members to stand as UKIP's Thanet South candidate for the upcoming general election.
With recent polling showing that UKIP can win the Thanet South seat in May, I look forward to the forthcoming campaign where we can set out a positive vision, for a free and independent Britain outside of the EU.
Farage calls 'Carswell's' move "brave" but we wonder whether that for Farage himself this is a "be careful what you wish for" moment. Another question is where does this leave Daniel Hannan, who co-authored the Plan. Hannan seems reluctant to make the same jump.

Perhaps rather cynically we might consider if this is attempt of a coup d'etat of UKIP by the Tory party just before an election. Its consequences mean there will be splits in the eurosceptic camp - to the convenience of the establishment. A Labour government in 2015 will result in 5 more years of EU membership.

There is no ulterior motive on this blog, apart for campaigning for EU exit. We make no suggestions apart from the fact that as it currently stands Carswell's defection actually makes EU exit less likely not more, and he is not a man to be entirely trusted. Split parties do not win elections.

The ultimate question is what do Eurosceptics want? Destruction of the Tory party or EU exit?


  1. Interesting post! Of course, as North points out on various occasions (i.e. I'm too lazy to check for a link), EU exit on its own would achieve relatively little - we would still have a ruling elite (aka 'scum') who run things for their own benefit totally ignoring the will of the poeple. Hence, maybe (?), destruction of the Tory 'Party' might be of more eventual benefit than exit of the EU. Of course none of this addresses the issue of Why Carswell has done it - perhaps he senses moves afoot from those on high to replace him; or perhaps he wants to leave politics and thought it would be fun to do so with a bang? Or, maybe, he has just felt the final straw and realised that EU exit won't occur even if Cameron's Tories should win - FUD is very strong and Cameron would bring everything to bear on staying in and would probably have a crumb or two to show after 'negotiations' with his EU ovrlords?

    1. Carswell's motives can certainly be treated with suspicion, but as it stands if one were a betting man currently the Tories are the only chance we've got - albeit a very slim one. If they renege we've lost nothing as a bet

  2. "what do Eurosceptics want? Destruction of the Tory party or EU exit?"

    Both ideally None of the major parties can be trusted on matters EU, and I don't believe for a moment that the Tory leadership would offer any sort of fair referendum. They will claim all sorts of powers returned and the compliant press will just repeat such unsubstantiated claims. Make no mistake, the tories, just like Liebour and the Dim Libs do not want us to leave the EU.

    1. Agreed I don't trust the Tories, but it's not a question of trust, but one of political realities. Cameron will have to have a referendum because he will have no choice

    2. Yes, but if we have a referendum in 2017, all the parties will be against leaving (except UKIP I imagine), the media will be on their side, the EU will throw us a cookie or two, we will lose (or be forced to have other referendums on slightly changed terms until we do lose) and then there will be no chance of another referendum (perhaps with a significant Party onside) at least in my lifetime and probably not for 50 years, should the EU survive that long.
      My own view is that it is head they win, tails we lose, regardless of Carswell!

    3. I would agree that a referendum is not the ideal mechanism to try to exit for the reasons that you put forward, but as it currently stands it's the only one we have.

      With Cameron at the helm though it at least gives us a fighting chance purely on the basis that he is clueless when it comes to all matters EU

  3. The referendum (if it ever happens ) is a poisoned chalice .
    The powers that be will ignore an OUT vote . Ask Mary Ellen Synon . What is required is the destruction of the present zombie Tory Party . Carswell has made a start . Voters have the next move .

    1. Mary Ellen made a good point regarding the Irish over Lisbon, but with all due respect to them the UK is not Ireland. Should we say out in a referendum I don't believe for one minute the EU would even dare try to ignore the vote - in the same way they didn't ask the French to vote again over the Constitution.

      Even if they did and we caved in second time around then we don't deserve independence.

    2. You know an out vote is not binding on Cameron and Cameron is a eurofanatic who will not come out of the closet any time soon . They did not ask the French again . They just rewrote the Constitution in Klingon and called it the Lisbon Treaty . Easy ,when the political elites are all keening from the same hymn sheet .

  4. Had the Tories thought they could form a majority government next time round, they would never have offered the referendum bait.

    Were they to win the GE, they could probably finesse the referendum to produce an in vote, then the out movement would be really stuffed.

    Were they to think that unlikely, they'd find excuses not to hold the election.

    They are determined we are not getting out of the EU, and if the price is destroying the Conservative Party, that they'll do.

    I really don't believe they would be cornered into holding a referendum which gave the wrong result.

    I've seen too much of them over the years to believe they are anything but a mirage as far as getting out of the EU is concerned.

  5. Carswell wants an end to representative democracy as we have known it for 100 years and its replacement with 'i-Democracy' in which the people instruct the executive what to do, via regular on-line referenda.

    It's a clear vision of the future and one I entire support: an elected dictatorship has as much place in the C21st as The Divine Right of Kings - and for the same reason: those exercising power have no special education, or knowledge, or skills, that the rest of us don't have too.

  6. There have been some good postings on this blog, but this one is disappointing. I cannot seriously believe we are going to get a referendum from Cameron. He has queered his pitch by alienating core voters over Europe, wind turbines/localism, immigration and wider political correctness. He has also bashed the middle class taxwise and is unlikely to have a 2015 majority..

    EUreferendum has explained brilliantly why there will be no treaty change in 2017 regardless and therefore nothing worth putting to a referendum. The dubious promise is just a fig leaf for his agitated MPs to wear before a disbelieving public, who have seen Cameron's true colours as a euro-stooge.

    Even if Cameron slunk back with a small majority, his new Bastards would not be able to force the continentals to offer a single worthwhile concession. Cameron has been warned that he will not even get any serious discussion on powers back.

    The backbenchers would be annoyed, but Cameron would be propped up by enough Labour, LibDem and Tory Europhiles plus his 'payroll vote' to win any motion 'postponing' a referendum - and the rebels would not be likely to bring their own government down.

    Perhaps, having talked the talk, even Carswell realises that a Tory referendum is a no-go, and is no longer prepared to be used by a political class that does not want to give the public a referendum. Full stop.

    1. The argument is that Cameron has over-committed and is stuck with a referendum which is winnable for the no side. As he has no time for serious re-negotiation he'd have to attempt to do a Wilson, and the rest of the EU isn't even making comforting noises. From what Carswell said, the intention is very much to do a Wilson and present nothing as something.

      Frankly, I don't believe they are painted into a corner. If they thought they couldn't pull a Wilson there'd be no referendum, at whatever cost to the Conservative Party.

      The referendum offer was being touted as the 'UKIP killer' a year or so back. There are a few problems with this, for instance, it's doubtful that the Conservatives could achieve a clear majority even if UKIP collapsed and most of its support went to them. Also, people haven't been abandoning the Conservatives purely because of the EU. So the chances of the Conservatives being in office to do any of this are slim.

    2. The issue here is that all of this was known to Carswell when he announced he would leave the awkward squad and back Cameron because of the referendum pledge.

      Carswell has moved the goalposts. His only interest was that a referendum would be held. That was his only goal. Now he claims the Tories would do the bare minimum to ensure the voters are convinced to vote to stay in. But that was always the case. Cameron's Europhile position was never hidden.

      Therefore Carswell's rationale doesn't stand up to scrutiny and his timing is extremely questionable. This is a vanity exercise that will cost taxpayers a lot of money. He rails against party politics, but that is exactly what he is playing now. Clacton voted for him to be their MP, but he is making the election about party affiliation rather than the candidate. It's entirely at odds with the thinking behind 'The Plan' (what little thinking there was).

      Helpfully he has reminded us that UKIP is not a democratic party. Their PCC for Clacton has been treated appallingly in order to service a headline and the local party who chose Roger Lord have had their wishes cast aside to make it possible.

      It seems that Carswell only takes issue with backroom stitch ups when they don't suit him.

    3. "EUreferendum has explained brilliantly why there will be no treaty change in 2017 regardless and therefore nothing worth putting to a referendum."

      Exactly. The reform option is most dangerous for the outers in a referendum. Cameron has promised a referendum in 2017 come what may. That he can't deliver on reform means it becomes a straight in/out - thus one where we have a real chance of winning.

      It's precisely because Cameron cannot deliver, that he is a poor politician and that no-one believes him gives us the advantage. We have an idiot in charge of our opponents. We can take advantage.

      And a Tory party with a small majority won't let him get away with not fulling his promise...and given that Carswell would have been one of those rebellious types makes his defection even more ridiculous.

    4. They most likely won't be able to form a majority government anyway.

      They might be able to do a Wilson, and from what Carswell said, that is the idea. Admittedly, the Juncker business and attempts to court Merkel are not promising auguries.

      I can see them finding excuses to put this off indefinitely. Failing that my guess is that they'd push the self-destruct button on the Conservative Party, rather than have to leave the EU.

      Now I believe that we will leave the EU because a pro-EU government has been forced to do this because of internal and external pressures, but I don't believe this is the occasion.

      The Conservatives would never have gone anywhere near a referendum had it not been for UKIP, despite what the likes of Redwood say about what the pressure of eurosceptic Tory MPs has achieved.

    5. 'my guess is that they'd push the self-destruct button on the Conservative Party, rather than have to leave the EU.'

      I completely agree - and I think to be fair that's less guesswork, more applied logic. That future Conservative party will go into a further civil war because there is a central core group who would rather their party literally disintegrate rather than say 'no' to the EU. As we saw with Maastricht and idiot-child John Major.

      I fully understand the frustrations of some conservatives, and many non-conservatives who highlight this referendum. I agree that Cameron is essentially boxed in and must hold it - I suspect even in a coalition, the coalition partner will acquiesce but as the quid pro quo insist that Cameron campaigns to remain in the EU.

      Frequently delivered evasions:-

      'It would be odd, having gone to the lengths of holding a referendum that we would then ignore the result'. ...which is not an answer in any respect. Leaving Holland and France aside for a second, it leaves the questioner to answer their own question. The frequency with which Cameron evades the matter gives perfectly legitimate cause to assume he's lying.

      'The Conservatives won't permit it because....'...

      There is nothing on the face of this planet the Conservatives can do to prevent Cameron resigning and causing a General Election when the Coalition partner pulls out. Nor could they prevent the forty-or-so Conservative MPs who are wholly Europhile from resigning the Party whip in the eventuality of an 'Out' vote. With the majority of the Labour Party, nearly all (maybe twenty or so) LibDems and that many ex-conservative rebels, we then look at a Conservative party in a guaranteed daggers-drawn civil war whilst Labour and the LibDems hold a General Election based on overturning the result of the referendum.

      There is also the small notion that WfW has exposed quite well - that when Cameron is given the opportunity to make observations on the EU controversies, he will elect to misinform the electorate.

      I'm happy to be proven wrong on each and every aspect of what my suspicions are, but all the time that the central matters behind this referendum remain concealed, then I will feel no guilt whatsoever in withholding my vote for a candidate whose party is led by a demonstrable fraud. I won't provide the answers myself nor permit myself to be duped by hazy presumptions. Cameron's refusal to give proper categorical answers from his own mouth speaks all the volumes I need to justify my stance.

    6. I just don't see things working out so neatly as the Conservative government holds a referendum which delivers an out vote which they absolutely don't want, but the pro-EU Conservative Party, and the rest of pro-EU Westminster and the HoL plus the pro-EU establishment, knuckle down and do something they vehemently don't want, because "the people have spoken".

      There'd definitely be attempts to throw the hook and the Tory europhiles which much outnumber the likes of Redwood and would probably be greater in number than the government's majority, could easily derail it.

      I'm not even so sure that Cameron has been cornered into giving a referendum. He could resign or be pushed, or the referendum could be delayed because of endless reasons if it looked like producing the wrong result; negotiations are at a difficult stage, events with the Euro mean that we'd be destabilsing a major trading partner.......

      I'd be happy to be wrong as well, but I've seen too much of our history of EU membership and Cameron, Hague and the Conservatives in particular, to believe otherwise.

      And of course an in vote would be the end of it for those wanting to leave the EU, and no matter how false the premises by which it was obtained, would be treated as a carte blanche by an essentially EU integrationist government and wider government.

  7. •A vote for Labour is EU membership

    •A vote for UKIP is EU membership by virtue of they can't possibly get enough MPs based on current poll ratings

    •A vote for Lib Dems is EU membership

    And a vote for Cameron is a vote for EU Membership which you specifically pre-endorse via route of his wrecking Referendum.

    1. Quite! Anyone who thinks there is a way out should read Kafka.

  8. Something that always nags away at me is the question "What reforms can Cameron possibly achieve?"

    If I were to sit down and try and come up with a shopping list of reasons for not wanting to be in the EU I don't think that any could be achieved other than by leaving the EU - Cameron's reforms are doomed to failure.

    If that is the case then we are bound for a referendum.

    What is Carswell's problem?

  9. "What is Carswell's problem?"

    Obviously, successfully pulling off a Wilson, which is the clear intent and a fear that many people have about this.

  10. Relevant:

  11. Without the boundary changes which were not supported by the Libdems the Tories do not have a hell's chance of winning a majority as, we are told, this gives Labour a 7% lead. Why not defect in that case?