With the Kippers falling apart, former backer Arron Banks hitting them with a £200,000 bill while he looks to form his own rival party, former leader Nigel “Thirsty” Farage swanning off to use his LBC show and appearances on Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) to score More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now, and the EU’s fraud squad on their case, the last thing they needed was more unrest.
So today they got it: UKIP’s one MP, Douglas “Kamikaze” Carswell, lived up to his nickname and left the party. His statement makes particularly lamentable reading; this is, as with so much in politics nowadays, self-serving and excuse-making rolled into one.
Here’s what he had to say: “Like many of you, I switched to UKIP because I desperately wanted us to leave the EU. Now we can be certain that that is going to happen, I have decided that I will be leaving UKIP … I will not be switching parties, nor crossing the floor to the Conservatives, so do not need to call a by-election, as I did when switching from the Conservatives to UKIP. I will simply be the member of parliament for Clacton, sitting as an Independent”. Carswell is to become The Member For Himself.
While this news will cheer Farage and Banks - plus their followers - it removes UKIP’s credibility of having at least one MP. Farage may spend plenty of time slagging off Parliament, but if it’s such a bad place, why has he made seven attempts to get in there (failing every time)? Why has his successor, comedy Scouser Paul Nuttall, the “bad Bootle Meff”, had five goes at getting in (and he’s failed every time, too)?
There will be no chance of “Short money” trickling down to the wider UKIP organisation, nobody there to lobby for the party’s interests, and with Britain set to leave the EU, after 2019 there will be no MEPs either. Mr Thirsty and those on his wing of UKIP might be cheering at the sight of Carswell walking out, but his departure tears away their fig-leaf of credibility - and their ability to turn other MPs to follow their cause.
So why did Carswell throw in the purple towel? Ah well. Consider Nuttall’s recent appearance before the inquisition of the host on The Andy Marr Show (tm), when the question of whether Carswell lobbied with sufficient enthusiasm for Farage to get a gong of some sort was discussed. Nuttall’s response shows why Carswell left.
This is what he said to Marr: “we’ve had it in writing now from Douglas Carswell that he lobbied for Nigel Farage to get a knighthood and he spoke to the people involved. He’s put it in writing, let’s see what happens. It’ll go to the national executive”. He later added “if it’s proven the Douglas lobbied for Nigel to get a knighthood … then I don’t see a problem”.
Carswell resigning from UKIP tells you that he thought it would not be proven to the satisfaction of the party’s national executive. He was expecting to be pushed, and so jumped first. This, too, may give Farage and his pals a warm feeling, but the fact remains that Carswell has saved himself by abandoning the sinking ship just in time.
Nuttall told Marr “I’ve only been in this role for 13 weeks … Give me time to sort out this mess and I will”. But it’s looking increasingly likely that there will be precious little left for him to sort out, let alone lead. The implosion of UKIP continues. Good thing too.