THE BLOG

Hypocritical And Self-Serving Douglas Carswell Can Never Lecture Anyone Again

26/03/2017 17:21 BST | Updated 27/03/2017 10:32 BST
PA Archive/PA Images

Douglas Carswell would have us believe he is a rebel - a man who takes on the established order in order to bring about change.

He's not. He's just another hypocritical politician. Just another MP motivated by self-interest, who picks and chooses his principles to match whatever he has already decided to do.

When Carswell defected to Ukip from the Tories in 2014, he made great play of triggering a by-election. For him, it was about honour, it was about making sure the people had the ultimate say when the person they elected made a huge decision such as which party they were aligned to.

"The only honourable thing to do is to say to the people of Clacton, who I represent in Westminster, it's their choice," said Carswell at the time.

And how thick he continued to lay it on. In a blog aimed at disaffected Labour MPs in 2015, Carswell preached how best to leave the party. Here is some of his advice:

"Insist on a by-election to confirm your move with the electorate. It's the only honourable way. Incidentally, there is no disgrace if they do say "No". What would be disgraceful would be to live life subservient to people you cannot respect."

So with all this in mind, it is surely inconceivable that the great Douglas Carswell, the man who holds the views of the public above everything else, should renege on his own convention?

Well knock me down with a Vote Leave leaflet, he has done just that. Having quit Ukip, he will not trigger a by-election. Why? Because he has not joined another party. Apparently that technicality means he does not need to go back to the voters.

'But we in Clacton elected a Ukip MP and now we haven't got one!' I hear voters in the Essex seat cry.

Tough - Carswell has made his mind up, and before you start whinging that he's broken the rules, he hasn't, because, you see, he makes the rules.

Poor Clacton voters. If only they had elected someone who supported the recall of MPs if a sizeable number of constituents demanded a by-election. If only they had elected someone who five days ago wrote these words:

"In the United States, representatives can be recalled by their electorate. If enough local people sign a petition, they trigger a by-election. Voters then decide whether or not to renew their representative's mandate at the ballot box.... The way to keep MPs in check isn't to empower a toothless regulator. It's to let their constituents hold them to account."

Wait a minute! They did. Yes, it was Carswell who wrote that on his own website.

Yet today when asked by Andrew Neil if he would call a by-election if 20% of his constituents demanded one, he said no.

By-elections when you quit the party? Yes - but now no.

Recall for MPs when constituents demand? Yes - but now no.

I'm waiting for him to change his mind about this whole Brexit malarkey to be honest.

I'm looking forward to seeing what Carswell does next, because surely now everything he stands for has been destroyed.

He can no longer play the 'I'm a great democrat' card - because he's not.

He can no longer argue that politics is a cartel dominated by people who don't want to give up power - because he is one of them.

He can no longer lambast his fellow politicians for breaking promises made to voters - because he has done the same.

Douglas Carswell will now fade to grey, and join the mass ranks of those in the public consciousness that represent the self-serving, hypocritical, untrustworthy nature of politicians.

A rebel in his mind; a sell-out in everyone else's.

Owen Bennett is deputy political editor of The Huffington Post UK. His latest book, The Brexit Club: The Inside Story of the Leave Campaign's Shock Victory, is available now