When we all gathered for a mystery UKIP announcement earlier, even that party’s press officers didn’t know what Nigel Farage was going to announce.
Afraid of leaks and presumably remembering the messy was-he-sacked-did-he-defect row over Bob Spink, UKIP’s first MP, only two people – Farage and the man himself – knew what was coming: Douglas Carswell’s defection to UKIP.
The secrecy evidently worked – only this morning CCHQ invited its Fast Track donor club to a drinks reception with Carswell next month. They’re blindsided by the news.
When I saw Douglas on the platform, backed by a purple and yellow hoarding, I confess my heart fell. He’s one of the conservative movement’s most original thinkers, and his various books (both solo and with Dan Hannan) chart a future course for British democracy that is both exciting and feasible. Plus, I like him a great deal on a personal basis.
According to his comments at the press conference, Douglas’ mind was not made up in a Damascene moment, but rather through a series of different events. Several times he referred to advisers from Number 10 telling him they would seek “the bare minimum” of EU renegotiation to convince people to vote In come 2017. Several times he mentioned the ’22 meeting at which the Prime Minister rejected associate member status or a Swiss relationship. Several times he cited the Government’s rejection of Zac Goldsmith’s recall proposal as evidence of a failure to embark on meaningf