Clacton MP draws Prime Minister's fire

Douglas Carswell MP Douglas Carswell, Conservative MP for Clacton, was given a public 'slapping down' by the Prime Minister

At the end of the first Prime Minister's questions of the new term, the big talking point was not the ongoing row over the Budget or the fall in unemployment.

It was the very public slapping down given to the MP for Clacton, Douglas Carswell.

It attracted a great deal of comment on Twitter where it was labelled as "unattractive" and "outrageous" by political commentators, many of whom were concerned about the treatment of backbenchers.

It all stemmed from a question asked by Mr Carswell.

He's been running a campaign in recent weeks against what he sees as the delaying tactics of Whitehall civil servants.

'Sense of humour'

Last time he raised the issue at PMQs, Mr Cameron told him that Whitehall wasn't frustrating reform.

Start Quote

I'm not in politics to ingratiate myself with the party bosses in London; I'm in politics to represent the folk in my constituency and make sure they get the government they voted for”

End Quote Douglas Carswell MP Conservative, Clacton

Since then Mr Carswell had noted that the Prime Minister made comments suggesting that sometimes it did.

So what had happened to make the PM change his mind, wondered the MP?

Mr Cameron, rose to his feet, paused a moment and said: "There are a few occasions where I think you need a bit of a sense of humour."

Then he sat down.

A case of pot and kettle perhaps?

Tory backbenchers were slightly stunned, while "Oooh" cried the Labour MPs.

It's hard to recall another occasion when a backbencher was given such short shrift by a Prime Minister.

People politics

Mr Carswell was left smarting but was unapologetic.

"I can do humour," he told us.

"But the folk I represent in Clacton aren't laughing about the Budget, they're not laughing about the massive increase of VAT on caravans and they're not laughing about the loss of economic growth.

"I asked an earnest question and it deserved a proper answer."

"I'm not in politics to ingratiate myself with the party bosses in London.

"I'm in politics to represent the folk in my constituency and make sure they get the government they voted for."

"The only way I could be humiliated was if I lost the respect of my electorate."

Defection rumours?

Mr Carswell is on the right of the party and well known as a euro-sceptic.

He admits to being "immensely frustrated" at the lack of reform since the new government took office and says he'll continue to speak out.

David Cameron David Cameron told Mr Carswell that he needed 'a bit of a sense of humour'

"If we are in government to reform things then why aren't we getting these things changed?"

There are rumours sweeping Westminster that one or two Conservative MPs are considering defecting to UKIP.

Mr Carswell's name has sometimes been mentioned but he says he has no plans to leave.

"I'm very staunchly Conservative, I pay my £25 subscription and I'm staying put. I want the Conservative party to do the right thing and I'm going to stay and get it to do the right thing."

Mr Cameron, be warned.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman told us that Mr Cameron has nothing against Douglas Carswell.

"They get on famously as you can see," she said.

Deborah McGurran Article written by Deborah McGurran Deborah McGurran Political editor, East of England

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  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Douglas Carswell an MP with honour. Not many left. UKIP would welcome him happily as he has the right stuff.
    Would the people of Clacton give their blessing?
    I bet nearly 100% of the folks want a referendum on EU membership. CAMERON will never ever give em one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Is it not a little unfair to refer to the PM and his chancellor as arrogant when, having been educated where and as they were, it was inevitable they should turn out as they have.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Good old Douggie! They might not like him in London, but here in Clacton on Sea he is very well thought of. He took the seat from someone who "Expected" to win and has done nothing but back us residents up since. He is regularly "around town" and he holds decent length surgeries in easy to get to places, he even visits!!! Well done, keep it up, what a refreshing change from the rest of them !!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Whilst not being Douglas Carswell's biggest fan I thing the snub given to him by Cameron showed more than just a lack of tolerance, it showed once again that he is out of touch, arrogant, aloof and unable to stand any criticism. How can the rat of us feel we may be listened to when he treats his own MPs with such distain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Why, BBC, did you not quote him and instead declared his intentional speech? He actually talked about the PM making remarks about Yes Minister being true to life, which clearly made the PM think that he was getting annoyed about something that was clearly a joke - I watched PMQs as I do every week and I thought that exact same thing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Why are we able to comment here but not on the blogs of political correspondents in scotland?

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Don't forget though, that Douglas Carswell's reference to a comedy about a bungling minister came at a time when David Cameron would have known something we didn't: that the Abu Qatada appeal fiasco was about to hit the media. In the light of this, it is perhaps little surprise that the PM reacted so tersely; such an apparently pointed question must have given him quite a turn.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    All Conservative MP's were elected on the Cameron Terms including Mr Carswell.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Well done the Rt. Honorable Gentleman for Clackton.... this is the trouble with the Prime Minister, remember one step forward and two steps back from Tarzan.... well, these lot ought look over their shoulder because there's a cliff behind em' with a mighty big drop.

    At present their policies are topsy-turvy to say the least. But still, the people of Clacton won't forget along with many others.



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