High noon for UKIP in Clacton

Douglas Carswell Douglas Carswell is a popular figure in Clacton, an opinion poll suggests

As he stood outside McDonalds in the centre of Clacton, the UKIP leader Nigel Farage was clear about the importance of the forthcoming by-election.

"This is high noon," he declared. "There is a lot at stake. This matters an awful lot to UKIP and the Eurosceptic movement."

The first walkabout with his new candidate, the former Conservative Douglas Carswell, went well. There were requests for autographs, lots of supportive comments and at least one person pushed money into Mr Carswell's hands. The only low point was when a woman walked past and shouted "traitor" at the former MP.

Douglas Carswell's defection has caught the other parties by surprise leaving UKIP to dominate the first few days of the campaign. But Mr Carswell has warned them that what he calls "the Westminster machine" will throw everything it has at both UKIP and him. He is expecting this to be a very nasty campaign.

Nigel Farage and Douglas Carswell Nigel Farage went on walk about in Clacton with Conservative defector Douglas Carswell

Although often identified as a possible UKIP defector, it has only been over the last month that Mr Carswell started to seriously consider changing sides.

Three things helped him make up his mind and none of them involved Europe. The first was a speech by Nigel Farage talking about greater democracy within the party, the other two were long standing local issues: fears about more housing in the area and a shortage of GPs, Mr Carswell believed that ministers were not listening to people's concerns.

So while a lot of people are portraying his defection as being all about Europe, it is about much more than that.

Douglas Carswell has always believed in politicians being the servants of the people. For many years he has warned that the political class is out of touch with those who have elected them.

As well as being a long time campaigner for an EU referendum, he has also advocated open primaries (where the public as well as party members get to choose the local election candidates) and right to recall (where a by-election can be called by constituents if a certain proportion lose confidence in their local MP).

Local election gains

Although the Conservatives have embraced these ideas in principle, he feels they've only done it half-heartedly. He worries that the political class is unwilling to give up its grasp on power.

So while Europe will dominate the news coverage of this by-election. Mr Carswell will spend a lot of this campaign talking about politicians really serving the people. And at a time when many are disillusioned with main stream politics, it is a message which might play very well with voters.

The outcome of this result will have a profound impact not just on Westminster but on the politics of the Eastern region.

Douglas Carswell Former MP Douglas Carswell's decision to join UKIP will affect politics across the region

UKIP is more popular here than anywhere else in the country having made notable local election gains in Essex, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. If it can win Clacton this will embolden its campaigners.

Seats like Basildon, Castle Point, Thurrock, Great Yarmouth, Kings Lynn and Peterborough will suddenly become UKIP targets. Other Eurosceptic Conservative MPs in the region may be tempted to jump ship. If UKIP doesn't win Clacton this could be the beginning of the end of its Westminster dream.

It is often said that by-elections don't really matter to those living outside the constituency and are quickly forgotten. Clacton will be different.

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

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  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    It isn't politically correct to say that British politicians should put the welfare of genuine British subjects first but if Scotland, among others, can give their country absolute priority why can't the rest of Britain? Stop pouring money down the Foreign Aid drain and spend it on vital domestic problems. UKIP seem to be listening to the electorate, LibLabCon are still going through the motions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    They may win this seat and gain more Councillors in the East of England but as they start to get some semblance of power they split due to internal factions, as they did when they became the opposition on Lincolnshire County Council. This then lead to the formation of An Independence from Europe, which could cause them long term problems http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Independence_from_Europe

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Do I detect a politician telling the TRUTH about the sitting MPs and especially the PM? has to be heard to be believed, I never thought I'd see the day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Re. 8, yes, you're right there are some local ructions as they had previously selected Roger Lord to stand against Carswell at the GE. I believe the UKIP National Executive have imposed Carswell for the by-election. This is why I said previously they should have an open primary - Carswell would win by a mile, and it would (virtually) silence all dissenters locally.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    No matter what our views are, Ashton's latest Clacton poll is very clear - the future looks purple.
    No doubt the arrogant mainstreamers, being eu conditioned right through like Blackpool rock, will insist the electorate has got it wrong.
    The eu can't force a second go on this one to get the right response.
    Not yet, anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    I live in South Wales where if you put up a donkey with a Labour rosette people would vote for it. Not any more. People are waking up to the fact that Red Ed's party no longer reflects working people's aspirations. I will go anywhere in the UK to support UKIP. So watch out out for more shocks for the LibLabCon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Carswell has integrity. That's not a word that can be applied to many in Westminster. I noticed John Redwood made a very dismissive comment about Carswell and UKIP. You really get the feeling that Political classes and the mainstream media hate UKIP (including the BBC unfortunately). Why is that? Democracy should come upwards unfortunately in the UK it comes downwards. More power to UKIP.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Would suggest that the Clacton By-Election may be the High Noon for the Conservatives, the Scottish referendum effect as yet is unknown but may be a defining moment in the UK's political agenda for both Labour and the Lib/Dems. Whilst UKIP is attracting ever more people to the UK cause.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    So has it actually been confirmed that Douglas Carswell will be the UKIP candidate in the Clacton by-election?

    I was under the impression that there's been a big row in the local party about this and some grassroots UKIP activists in Clacton are refusing to support him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    If he believes in open primaries, why not hold a UKIP one in Clacton? He would win hands down of course, but it would seem odd to be championing them but not put yourself through one when it comes to your own seat. Plus, it could help rid him of a potential minor fly in the by-election ointment in the shape of the previously selected UKIP General Election candidate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    The mainstream parties still don't get it.
    We know UKIP aren't going to be running the country, so don't waste time ridiculing their policies on this or that.
    Listen up - we don't want to be part of what is happening in Europe, we KNOW we can't trust the torylablibdems to give us a real vote, and Cameron's fabled renegotiation is pie in the sky.
    We want to choose our future for ourselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Could be a few more Tories following Mr Carswell's honorable move.


    But any Labour mp's and councillors ought to be thoroughly vetted first for obvious reasons...

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Here's what Ace Rimmer would say "Smoke me a Ukipper, I'll be back for breakfast.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    ''when a woman walked past and shouted "traitor" at the former MP.''

    A traitor? Because he could no longer support this cosy members only club that is LibLabCon. Who back this ludicrous uncontrolled immagration, the Pro E.U Beaurocrats and have not put Britain's interests first for decades.

    People of Clacton vote purple. Light the fire and people of Britain will stoke the flame in 2015

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    The woman who walked past and shouted " Traitor " is typical of the dead in the hole sheeples who would say black was white if they had always said it irrespective of the facts, Alas they are the problem not the solution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Hopefully UKIP we will win they seem to be the only party looking out for Brits & UK interests- controlling immigration, leaving EU. It is very clear LibLabCon have no intention of changing anything they are all the same. Time for a government who put Brits first for a change. Cameron is pro EU, he has no intention of leaving & we all know it

    Vote UKIP Clacton and everyone else in 2015


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