The Corner

Re ‘Another Defection to UKIP’

Andrew, there is another question here: that of honor. Here is a Guardian article from August 28:

Mark Reckless, a close friend of Carswell’s who had been identified by senior Tories as the next possible defector, said on Thursday night that he had no plans to leave the Tories. Reckless told the Guardian: “Douglas is a friend so I don’t want to criticise him personally. If people want a vote for an independent Britain they need a Conservative government.”

Uh-huh. Obviously, Reckless’s jump had been planned for a long time. As Dan Hodges puts it,

The timing of his announcement was specifically designed to cause maximum damage to the party that he had represented in parliament since 2010. And it came on the day that his country went to war. At least Douglas Carswell had the courage to stab his Prime Minister in the front. Mark Reckless has stabbed him squarely in the back.

If the cause of UKIP is to bring down the Conservative party — well, hats off to UKIP. Nice going, boys. Nige and his merry pranksters continue to have their fun. But if the cause of UKIP is to help Britain — and I have no doubt that Malcolm Pearson and others sincerely want to help Britain: Where’s the help, exactly? Pearson is an example of honor in politics. The Reckless-Farage caper is not.

People have a right to run for office, and they have a right to form parties, and join parties. That’s the democratic way. I would have no other. Furthermore, people have a right to do “maximum damage” (in Hodges’s phrase) to parties they oppose. But in the bargain, they may do damage to their country. The only person whose grin is broader than Farage’s this weekend is Red Ed.

I agree with Mark Reckless a few weeks ago: “If people want a vote for an independent Britain they need a Conservative government.” I also think that honor is not too quaint for politics. In fact, the best politicians are honorable.