A collection of suggestions as to why Conservative politicians are defecting to UKIP at an impressive rate

Alright, maybe not racist, but Eurosceptic xenophobes doesn’t have the same ring to it. Conservative MP’s are defecting to UKIP at quite a rate, with backbenchers Douglas Carswell’s switch being chased rapidly by Mark Reckless. The question is, why now? Is UKIP the future of Britain’s Right? Are the main parties moving too close to centre? Has there been a recent increase in Tory MPs being spurned by European lovers and, in turn, seeking revenge?

Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Carswell and Reckless were both Tory backbenchers pre-defection. A backbencher holds no governmental office, and, as such, is simply another card in the deck. Not even a royal or an ace. Occasionally, however, these cards are something of a joker: annoyances until removed.

Given that both defectors were backbenchers, neither had any great power or influence over the party. Could it be possible that someone who enters a career based on leadership could lust for more power? It doesn’t seem that absurd. In different contexts, it happens all the time. Coaches move to managerial positions across sports, cogs in corporate machines fall out to form their own mechanisms. It seems like the men labelled as “heroes” by Nigel Farage have the potential to be on the forefront of UKIP’s surge in power.

Reckless was a noted rebel of the Conservatives, casting 53 votes against the whip between 2010 and his defection in 2014. He also led a rebellion that inflicted the first House of Commons defeat of this term for his party. Carswell was also something of a troublemaker for the party, attempting to force a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon. Are the rebellious actions of the defectors a potential indicator of the Conservatives moving closer to centre and further from the needs of their more extreme MP’s?

In the interest of a fair, balanced (how very socialist of me) article, I spoke to UKIP’s Young Independence Country Chairman for Oxfordshire, Harrison Lee. He believes that “the Conservative party are no longer conservative”, which could potentially reinforce the idea that UKIP are fast becoming the only option for the heavily right-wing.

He later described his beliefs surrounding the defectors. “They have listened to our (UKIP’s) policies and beliefs and have, in my opinion, realised that we are all about common sense policies.” Some see the present Conservative party as too idealistic, failing to represent the needs of the population it leads. Hence, they may see UKIP as a reasonable, more productive alternative due to the aforementioned “common sense policies.”

In terms of the Eurosceptic nature of UKIP’s economic policies, Lee stated “I believe they have defected because they want us to be open to the global market and not tied down by the shackles of the EU. They are not doing this for themselves, but for their family, children, constituencies and nation.” As patriotic as it sounds, striving to remove the UK from the world’s largest single market seems counter-productive.

Surely the defectors would’ve come forward with some kind of reason for betraying their party? They have, but vaguely. Blogs and Twitter accounts describe conflicts with party whips and lobbyists; statements slate their previous party as counterproductive, that they’re “holding our country back”; but nothing concrete. Nothing definitive. It’s almost inconceivable that a politician would hide how they really feel behind euphemisms and half-truths, but that seems to be the case.

By Will Pitts