Douglas Carswell on UKIP’s momentum after a bittersweet 2015 general election result, and the long term prospects for the party beyond the EU referendum
While covering last month’s UKIP party conference in Doncaster, I caught up with Douglas Carswell, UKIP’s sole MP at present, as he roamed the conference venue chatting with delegates and posing for the inevitable selfies.
I was interested to hear the MP for Clacton’s thoughts on how UKIP might regain its momentum after a stratospheric rise in support was kept unfairly in check by the UK’s first-past-the-post electoral system, as well as what future the party might have following the referendum, once Britain has either voted to leave the European Union or repudiated UKIP’s entire world view by voting to remain.
Here is a transcript of my interview with Douglas Carswell:
QUESTION: What would constitute a win for UKIP conference this year? Obviously it’s a bit lower-key this year than last year when you were able to announce the defection of Mark Reckless, so what’s the ultimate goal this year?
DOUGLAS CARSWELL: Well actually, the interesting thing is everyone said it was going to be quite low key. I’ve been here for ten minutes and it’s been pretty full on, there’s a real buzz. I think there’s a feeling of real excitement. We’re going to have this referendum. We’ve been campaigning for it for twenty years, and it’s happening, and we can win, but we can only win if we work together and I think that is beginning to happen and it’s incredibly exciting, it’s wonderful to be here.
QUESTION: So looking beyond the referendum, in five years at the next post-election conference the referendum will have happened, we might have another government. What does UKIP need to do to stay relevant in that time, other than the Brexit referendum?
DOUGLAS CARSWELL: There are a whole range of policy areas from forced adoption to a lack of bank reform to the great energy cartel – there are a whole range of policy issues that we need to address, and we are addressing. And we’re making it clear that Comrade Corbyn’s Labour Party doesn’t offer any credible change, the Conservative’s won’t change because they are part of the cartel, UKIP stands for change. These are a whole range of areas besides the Europe question, but you know we were founded twenty-something years ago to ensure that Britain left the European Union. Let’s rise to the occasion and win that referendum.
QUESTION: And finally Douglas, UKIP is an interesting coalition of different voters at the moment. You’ve got disaffected Labour voters, you’ve got right wingers and libertarians and others. How do you keep that coalition together once the unifying factor of an EU referendum is passed?
DOUGLAS CARSWELL: It’s actually surprisingly easy. If you look at some data that appeared in the New Statesman recently, it showed very clearly that the Labour voters that Jeremy Corbyn needs to connect with actually have a view on the free market that is far more closely aligned to the unapologetically free market views of UKIP. We are in a much better position to appeal to ordinary working class people in this country who will never vote Conservative but who realise that Jeremy Corbyn’s welfare-ism, open borders policies and deficit denial are not credible. UKIP can come up as a credible voice for change, as a party that will break open the political cartel and tackle the corporatist economic injustices that are so prevalent in the country today. But the way to do that is not to offer reheated socialism – not Ed Miliband Mark Two. The way to do that is to be unapologetically free market.
You’re filming this from an iPhone. An iPhone that is the collective endeavour of tens of thousands of people across the planet. We need to be a party that believes in the market, in free trade, in taking the best and the brightest from around the world in order to raise living standards. And that is something that I think people right across the political spectrum recognise as credible.
My live blog from Day 1 of the UKIP 2015 party conference is here.
My live blog from Day 2 of the UKIP 2015 party conference is here.