This is no ordinary defection. It would be easy for the Tories to brush off a member of the old guard as a swivel-eyed headbanger, but Douglas Carswell is not only a darling of the grassroots, he’s also extremely popular in the House. And not just amounst Tories. As Mr S reported last year from Carswell’s book launch, Tristram Hunt is a big fan:
‘In Douglas and his manifesto we have not as the whips office suggest a ranter, not a digger or a muggle-tonian but a true agitator with a modern Leveller tract, a 21st Century agreement of the people, and if the tools of the 1640s were the unlicensed presses of London, Douglas’ is the internet. I can think of no other politician who is more dedicated too, or has a better command of understanding how the internet is transforming our politics and our society.’
As Carswell said at his press conference: ‘If people attack me personally and with vitriol, all the more reason for me to be nice to them because they need it most’. Who will be the first Tory to turn on one of their own?
Mr S should have guessed, obviously it was Louise Mensch who would break cover first:
Douglas Carswell was always a bit of a slimeball. He organised referendums against Conservative MPs in very marginal seats from his safe one
— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) August 28, 2014
She used to be a big Carswell fan too, after he ousted Michael Martin as speaker:
Well done, Douglas Carswell. You have done our country a service. #speaker
— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) May 19, 2009
Louise is hardly one to lecture other people about leaving their party in the lurch and triggering a by-election.