Thursday, 4 September 2014

Roger Lord defects to the Lib Dems

The UKIP PPC for Douglas Carswell's now-vacant seat of Clacton has resigned from UKIP and joined the Lib Dems.

Roger Lord, who is also an Essex County Councillor, is miffed at Douglas Carswell being selected as UKIP candidate for the by-election caused by his own resignation which is understandable but his reaction is quite unreasonable.

Douglas Carswell is going to win the by-election. He is immensely hard working as an MP and is defending a 22,000 vote majority. The opinion polls show that he is going to thrash the Tories and Labour and that it is down to both liking UKIP and liking Douglas Carswell. 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.

The party rule book says that someone other than the selected PPC can be chosen by the NEC to contest a parliamentary by-election. Lord should have known this before he stood as a PPC as it's the sort of question that can come up in the assessments. Carswell standing in the by-election doesn't mean that Lord is no longer the adopted candidate for next year's general election. I would have been amazed if the branch hadn't deselected Lord and selected Carswell instead but that would have been a democratic decision of the branch membership as provided for in the party rule book. If they hadn't done so then no doubt the NEC would have taken the more draconian step of imposing Carswell as its own candidate which, again, is absolutely within the rules. Rules which Roger Lord would have known about as part of his revision for the assessment process.

If we were only 3 months away from the by-election and a great deal of money had been spent on it then I would be more sympathetic but the campaign had barely started. The decisions to select Carswell as the candidate for the by-election was the right one for the party and if the branch needed to be overruled to deselect Lord and select Carswell as the candidate for next year's general election then that too would have been the right decision for the party. We don't really do party politics in UKIP (hence not having a whip) but when you join a party you surrender a little bit of your loyalty to the party and if that means standing aside as a candidate for someone who is frankly head and shoulders above you in terms of electability then that's what you do.

As for his decision to join the Liberal Democrats ... well, good luck helping to reorganise the deckchairs on that Titanic, Roger!