Tag Archives: douglas carswell

Carswell, Brexit and Gladstone

As we know, there were several fairly eccentric and spurious reasons given by the Leave side for supporting Brexit last summer. One of the most bizarre reasons, however, is that made by erstwhile UKIP MP Douglas Carswell, that it represented the fulfilment of the legacy of Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone, perhaps our greatest political forerunner as Liberal Democrats. It needs challenging.

According to Roy Jenkins’ 1995 biography, Gladstone did as much to define Britain’s Victorian golden era as the Queen herself. Nonetheless, his name is only vaguely recognised today-– he died in 1898, on the cusp of recorded sound and in 2002 he was not even included in the BBC list of 100 greatest Britons. Despite this contemporary obscurity, and total lack of importance in the referendum (compared to promises of a reinvigorated NHS), the Gladstone-Brexit argument is no less peculiar – and perhaps all the more revealing.

Carswell, and certain Brexit allies across the Tory Party, have frequently cited Gladstone as an inspiration. On April 19th last year:

It’s because UKIP is the closest party to Gladstonian liberalism today that this picture of the Grand Old Man appears in our Welsh manifesto. UKIP – like Gladstone – stands for freedom. Like him, we’re against a big, intrusive state.

Carswell keeps Gladstone’s painting in his office.

Gladstone’s career is too epic to effectively summarise– he spent 63 years as MP and 19 as Chancellor, and is the only person to have served as PM four separate times. Nonetheless, there are six clear ideas in his long life, which suggest somewhere behind a famously stern poise, he would be wincing with us in fear, bemusement and embarrassment at Britain’s upcoming Brexit disaster.

First, and most important, Gladstone was British history’s greatest advocate for free trade. He broke with the Tory party in 1846, because it would not support his mentor Robert Peel’s efforts to reduce tariffs on corn. Their triumph helped the emerging working and middle classes-build railways and initiate a second industrial revolution- whilst it hit the sclerotic land owning gentry.

1846 and 2016 have often been compared, lately by The Economist (set up in 1843 as an anti-Corn Law pamphlet) and many others, as triumphs and disasters over the same issues of British free trade. Whilst Carswell sometimes vaguely spoke of “soft Brexit” as a path to Free trade – this now looks forlorn, just as was obvious before last June for those of us in the Remain campaign. As George Osborne recently observed, leaving the Single Market would appear “the biggest act of protectionism in history”.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 18 Comments

A refreshing note of dissent in UKIP on Farage’s HIV comments

One of the most awful moments of the 2015 election campaign was when Nigel Farage mentioned “foreigners” and HIV treatment in one of the TV debates.

UKIP’s only MP is Douglas Carswell. His father, Wilson Carswell, was one of the first doctors to identify HIV/Aids in Uganda in the 1980s.

So, one expected Douglas Carswell to have some views on Farage’s revolting HIV comments.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 22 Comments

Clacton and the Lib Dems’ post-2015 wastelands problem

Clacton Pier.The Clacton by-election triggered by Douglas Carswell’s defection from the Tories to Ukip will take place on 9th October – David Cameron’s birthday, but also the day after the Lib Dems’ autumn conference concludes.

That’s not great news for the Lib Dems on two counts. First, it means the media will likely be obsessing more about Clacton than what’s happening in Glasgow (unless, that is, Yes Scotland has won the referendum).

And secondly, the party’s not expecting a great result. There have been two constituency polls conducted to date (

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 49 Comments

Registers and recall: I support them both. But they’re not going to clean up our democracy

The weekend’s revelations that two Labour peers and an Ulster Unionist were filmed offering to lobby ministers for cash, following hot on the heels of Tory MP Patrick Mercer’s resignation of the Tory whip over similar allegations, has re-ignited the question of how to clean up Parliament.

Two proposals are being pushed, both of them originally pledged in the Coalition Agreement.

Register of lobbyists

First, there’s a register of lobbyists, intended to bring greater transparency to the way in which professional lobbyists seek to influence government decisions. This is one of Unlock Democracy’s top campaigns:

If we don’t know

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 12 Comments

Opinion: Delivering local citizens’ initiatives

Five years ago, back in the final throws of the Blair government, when Cameron was still hugging hoodies and Ed Miliband was just a twinkle in the unions’ eyes, I worked for an organisation called Our Say.

Our Say campaigned for the introduction of citizens’ initiatives in the UK, referendums that can be instigated by a petition of a certain percentage of citizens in a given area.

The campaign wasn’t active for very long but it received cross party support, primarily from backbenchers. Overall, Conservative MPs more than Liberal Democrats or backbench Labour MPs received it better. In fact the Lib …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

PMQs: Prime Minister’s tennis

Posted in PMQs | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 6 Comments

PMQs: Hattie opens up the Coalition’s Grand Canyon

I feel as though Norris McWhirter (late of the Guinness Book of Records) ought to have been kneeling at the foot of the Speaker’s Chair with his stopwatch for this momentous Prime Minister’s Questions. There were several records or firsts being set. The first coalition PMQs ever, I would suggest (I doubt whether Winnie or Ramsay or our David held such events). The first with Liberal Democrats on the government benches. The first with a party sporting its second female leader (Margaret Beckett was acting Labour leader after John Smith died). And it’s 13 long years since we had …

Posted in PMQs | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 17 Comments

Britain’s best MP competition: the results

Our ‘Britain’s Best MP’ competition has come to a close with Douglas Carswell, Conservative MP for Harwich, a clear winner. The final results are:

Douglas Carswell 47%
Gisela Stuart 16%
Tom Harris 12%
Lynne Featherstone 9%
Bob Russell 6%
Jo Swinson 6%
David Howarth 2%
Chris Mullin 2%

I appreciate that the results do not make happy reading for visitors to this site and the results of online polls cannot be taken too seriously, but please don’t dismiss this competition just yet.

Whilst acknowledging that our hope of getting people to listen to the MPs answers and then vote for their ‘best MP’ based on what they heard probably …

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged , , , , , and | 10 Comments

What makes a ‘good’ MP?

Well, there has been plenty in the news recently about what makes a ‘bad’ MP so we at Yoosk thought that it might be a good idea to focus for a while on the qualities of a ‘good’ MP. End the year on a positive note.

And that is why we started our ‘Britain’s Best MP’ campaign two weeks ago. We want to find out who the good MPs are and what differentiates them from the rest. We asked our users at Yoosk to nominate their candidates and these are the people they put forward:

Gisela Stuart (Lab)
Lynne …

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 9 Comments

Daily View 2×2: Friday 4 September

Today I went to Wikipedia to see what happened today in history, and saw that it’s the birthday of the composer Edvard Grieg. Quick as a flash, the Kit and the Widow song “hundreds of Norwegians on the London Underground” to the tune of the Hall of the Mountain King rises unbidden in my mind – and with it, memories of the Brent East by-election, and Ed Fordham’s uncanny rendition of “Can you tell me please – where can Dollis Hill be found?” For many of you, this will mean nothing, but I’m hoping a significant number of …

Posted in Daily View | Also tagged , , , , , and | 2 Comments

LDV readers say: 85% wanted Michael Martin to quit

Well, y’know, I’m personally convinced that Michael Martin must have been finally convinced to quit when he saw the overwhelming result of LDV’s over-night poll showing 85% of readers thought he should quit now. So much more likely than that the Prime Minister instructed him to resign voluntarily.

Here, for the record,is what you said in response to the question, “Do you think the Speaker of the House of Commons Michael Martin should resign over his handling of the MPs’ expenses row?”

>> 85% (137 votes) – The Speaker should resign now – reform cannot wait until the general election.
>> 9% (15)

Posted in News, Parliament and Voice polls | Also tagged , , and | 4 Comments

The LDV 2×2 Daily View (12/5/09)

Welcome to what’s intended to be a daily feature here on LDV: an early preview of the two big news stories of the day, and a click-though to two of the must-read Lib Dem blog posts just published. Each day a member of the LDV collective will take their turn to bagpipe fact into news*.

2 Big Stories

MPs’ expenses: paying bills for Tory grandees
The Telegraph has the most enjoyable schadenfreude story of the day, with the latest set of MPs’ expenses revelations this time focusing on the ‘estate-ocracy’ of Tory MPs. Particular faves include:

  • Douglas Hogg (aka 3rd Viscount
  • Posted in Daily View | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 1 Comment
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