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'No More Tory Defectors Please, They're Tainting Ukip's Brand!'

19/11/2014 17:15 GMT | Updated 19/01/2015 10:59 GMT

Ukip is preparing to celebrate the almost certain election of Mark Reckless as its second ever MP, but how much of a "revolution" is Nigel Farage's "People's Army" really going to cause?

With Reckless sitting alongside fellow former Tory MP Douglas Carswell in the House of Commons, the party will have nearly 14 years of parliamentary experience. And if any more defections take place after the Rochester and Strood by-election result, that total will rise yet further.

While Reckless' successful re-election as a Ukip MP will mark a new milestone in the party's rise, the fact that the party has been relying on Westminster insiders to get into Parliament has caused concern.

One senior Ukip figure, who has been campaigning for Reckless in Rochester, told me: "I think we've had enough defectors", warning that they risk "tainting" the party's outsider brand.

Reckless promises to break up "that cosy cartel at Westminster" as part of the "agents of change", which may seem difficult for someone who has been a Tory MP for four years and part of Tory HQ's policy unit before that.

This drift is not just affecting how radical and "anti-establishment" Ukip's top brass are, but the party's own politics.

Godfrey Bloom, Farage's colourful former Ukip colleague and erstwhile flatmate in Brussels, told me last October that he feared there was a "huge force in the party to be a Conservative Party which isn't in the European Union" due to the Tory defectors who have "brought that baggage".

"The only reason people come to Ukip is because we're not like the others," he added.

Douglas Carswell has shown this effect as he revealed before joining the party that he sought extensive reassurances from Farage that his party was not racist.

Contrast the statements Carswell has made, telling Ukip members after winning in Clacton that they must be a "party for Britain and all Britons", with Farage, who has spoken of how he felt "awkward" hearing foreign languages spoken on the train.

On the campaign trail in Clacton, I watched Carswell politely but firmly challenge voters with illiberal views, urging them to "never, ever make the mistake of blaming problems in this country on immigration".

Listen to Mark Reckless rail at Britain's "harsh and almost inhumane" migration laws, and you might be surprised to think he was part of a party whose leader who once said parts of Britain had become "unrecognisable" due to the influx of immigrants.

Nigel Farage describes himself as a "radical", but how radical can he be with his two new MPs hailing from one of the big three parties?

Ukip's newest ex-Tory recruits are canny operators, dragging the party towards the centre as their price for carrying its message into the House of Commons.