Goodbye Roger, you are now surplus to requirements

When Douglas Carswell resigned from the Conservative Party to join UKIP it triggered not one but two by-elections. He, of course, resigned his Parliamentary seat, and was immediately given the UKIP candidacy to stand in the by-election. The trouble is, UKIP already had a candidate. Roger Lord was looking forward, I imagine, to taking on Carswell next May. Now, not only can he not look forward to that particular contest, he ceases to be UKIP’s chosen one in Clacton.

Lord’s response? – to quit his Essex County Council seat in Brightlingsea, triggering a second by-election on David Cameron’s birthday. Mr Cameron’s 48th birthday celebrations look set to be marred by an almost certain defeat – and the prospect of nervous Tories wondering whether their majorities are enough of a buffer, or whether they would be better off scampering to the EU-sceptic anti-immigration right-wing party.

There is some overlap between the Clacton constituency and the Brightlingsea division, allowing some voters two opportunities to stick it to the Prime Minister.

Of course, you would imagine that Ukippers would not be pleased with Mr Lord, especially as he now appears to be a Liberal Democrat (which I find an amazing conversation given the Lib Dems fondness for Europe). Bloggers4UKIP has this astonishing admission: With the best will in the world, Roger Lord couldn’t command the support that Douglas Carswell can in Clacton and so selecting Carswell to defend his seat was, without doubt, the right one.

Are UKIP now claiming that their candidates cannot beat Conservative MPs? I am not prepared to trawl through all of Lord’s statements whilst he was the UKIP candidate in Clacton, but I bet he never admitted defeat before a ballot was cast.

Dumping local candidates in favour of unfaithful Conservatives may be what local UKIP branches want. I cannot help but wonder, though, whether some are now pondering how a turncoat can be a better choice than the long-term loyalist.

We know that many politicians have shallow pretensions as regards to their allegiances, and that it is often the nearest flag of convenience that is chosen to support their ambitions. UKIP appear to be taking this to a whole new level.


6 Responses to Goodbye Roger, you are now surplus to requirements

  1. Terry Weldon says:

    A turd with blue or a turd with purple ribbon. UKIP;s policies are what the majority of tories want anyway.

  2. Perhaps UKIP has a rule that says if a by-election is called any already selected prospective candidate has to stand down – or at least stand for reselection?

    Pragmatically it would be sensible for all parties to have such a rule. At this stage of the electoral cycle parties will be selecting paper and near-paper candidates in many of their less targeted seats – and many of them could be a liability in the harsh spotlight of a by-election. Candidate melt-down is not unknown – and if a constituency suddenly becomes a by-election constituency being able to chose an alternative candidate is sensible – if harsh on an already selected candidate who was looking forward to a relatively quiet general election.

    Does Labour have such a rule?

  3. As far as I am aware Labour has no such rule. I would hope that Labour’s bar is set high enough that we do not have paper candidates in any Parliamentary seat. Of course, candidate (and CLP) fatigue over a prolonged campaign will see some casualties, but to dump a candidate because an incumbent MP is sensing the tide going out is pretty horrid.

  4. to dump a candidate because an incumbent MP is sensing the tide going out is pretty horrid.

    Agreed, but I am just wondering if it is a “dumping of convenience” to take the (perceived) “better chance with Carswell”, or whether it is a pre-existing rule (see below).

    Any party rule would apply “when a vacancy arises” such as where an MP dies or resigns in disgrace. It is a by-election vacancy that “changes the situation” (greater media scrutiny, higher profile campaign, leaders visits, traps laid by other parties, skeletons coming out of closets, etc.) whereby a particular candidate may become unsuitable.

    The Labour Party 2013 Rule Book Chapter V (Selections, rights and responsibilities of candidates for elected public office) Clause 4 (Selection of Westminster parliamentary
    candidates) sub-clause 10
    does say (my italics):
    10. The normal procedure may be dispensed with by the NEC where no valid nominations are received, or when an emergency arises, or when the NEC are of the opinion that the interests of the party would be best served by the suspension of the procedures issued by the NEC.

    That strikes me as potentially quite a draconian rule. But could it be used to remove a weak selected candidates from a by-election candidacy? Whether it has or not is another matter – without local support it could be quite incendiary.

    The UKIP Constitution Clause 12.6 says:
    12.6 In the case of a by-election (other than local government by-elections and other by-elections to local public office) the selection of a candidate will be made by the NEC in consultation with the constituency association or branch.

    So I think they are working within their rules rather than according to the whim of one person.

    (Can’t quickly find the Lib Dem and Tory selection rules.)

  5. “Perhaps UKIP has a rule that says if a by-election is called any already selected prospective candidate has to stand down – or at least stand for reselection?”

    My understanding is that UKIP rules are that by-election candidates are decided by their NEC, the implication of this whole affair being that the decision is without reference to the local party. It might be “efficient” when you have a defecting Tory who you want to put up, but it cuts rather abruptly across the whole “grassroots democracy” thing that UKIP have been proclaiming they’re all about.

  6. Andy Parsons expressed surprise (BBC2 Mock the Week, 1 October 2014) about Mark Reckless defecting to UKIP because:

    They don’t like outsiders coming in and taking their jobs

    I am sure that Douglas Carswell’s predecessor as UKIP candidate for Clacton must agree with that sentiment.

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