It is easy for an elected MP to cross the floor and join another party. Disputes within parties can result in a member becoming dissatisfied with the policies of the party that they originally stood for and will join with either the Government of the day or Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.
Some of our greatest politicians such as Winston Churchill have been ‘floor-crossers’, and it is not always an indication of political opportunism for a politician to change their mind. In this case it looks like an honourable decision by an MP to leave a party that has lost its way.
The news that Douglas Carswell the Conservative MP for Clacton has left the Conservative Party and joined UKIP is a stunning blow to David Cameron and a major boost for the credibility of UKIP. A man of libertarian and eurosceptic views Mr Carswell also believes that Parliament needs reform and that there must be more direct democracy, must have increasingly felt like a fish out of water in David Cameron’s Conservative-in-name-only party.
What is interesting about Mr Carswell’s defection to UKIP is that he is not going to simply cross the floor and serve out the next few months until the General Election as an opposition MP as other floor-crossers have done. He is putting his money where his mouth is and will stand, in a Byelection in Clacton, as a UKIP candidate. The people of Clacton are going to be placed in a strange political situation, as they will have two elections for an MP in a 9 month period and it is likely that both of these elections will attract considerable attention from journalists and psephologists. If Mr Carswell holds onto his Clacton seat at the byelection then it will not mean that the fuss will die down as Tory Central Office will pour massive resources into the seat because they know how important it is for the Conservatives to retake it at the General Election. It is to be wondered if because of all the attention, whether the voters of Clacton will end up with election fatigue?
This is going to be a fascinating political battle that is worth watching closely.
Guido Fawkes on the defection of Douglas Carswell
BBC coverage of this story.