So, no great surprise about the result from Clacton (Ukip’s electoral breakthrough, 10 October).
What has surprised me, however, has been the ease with which Messrs Carswell and Farage have been allowed to put the whole episode down as a matter of honour. There is no honour in resigning from a party a few months from a general election, and resigning also as MP specifically so as to trigger a byelection as the only way to usurp the long-standing Ukip member and properly selected candidate from his status.
Honourable? No. Jumping on the bandwagon and maximising media attention? Yes. If this is indeed “honourable”, then I’ll… well, I’ll just carry on being totally bemused by how far Ukip has managed to push the concept of honour down the pecking order of desirable traits among politicians.
• David Cameron says “go to bed with Nigel Farage and wake up with Ed Miliband” (theguardian.com, 10 October). Nigel Farage says “vote Conservative and you’ll end up with Labour” (theguardian.com, 10 October). They may be right. It is a wholly possible, perverse and predictable consequence of the first-past-the-post voting system. But hang on. Wasn’t Cameron the one party leader who urged us all to vote no to the alternative vote in the 2011 referendum? If he’s now hoist with his own petard, let us enjoy the spectacle.
Chair, Make Votes Count
• Cameron has repeatedly claimed a vote for Ukip is a vote for Labour. The results in the byelections make clear that a vote for Ukip is a vote for Ukip.
• Your report questions the delivery of political promises. The emergence of Ukip as a viable political force is the result of a declining labour market. Working people need employment that enables their families to afford to live in this country. The political establishment instead trades aggression directed at sectors of society that they already know will not vote for them. We seem to have no politicians big enough to address the issue of a viable future for working people.
• On Friday’s Today programme, Grant Shapps, Tory party chairman, made the strategy for the next election fairly clear when responding to the byelection results, by mentioning Ed Miliband 12 times in a short interview – once even referring to the Ed Miliband party. Perhaps the Labour party could counter this by regularly predicting the almost certain return to the cabinet of Michael Gove in the event of a Conservative government. At least until the start of the following election campaign.
• Now that Ukip has one MP, I assume that the media platform given to its ideas will be scaled down so as to be comparable to that given to the Green party’s. Or am I being naive?
• Is it any surprise Ukip have just won a byelection? They have consistently had huge press coverage despite, until now, having no MP, yet the Green party, which has had an MP since the last general election (not elected at a byelection) gets very little. Your feature (Conference party roundup, 10 October) proves my point. When will you redress the balance?
• “Harwich for the continent, Frinton for the incontinent,” the old A12 sign grafitto used to read. Now perhaps should be added: “And Clacton for the malcontent.”
Fr Alec Mitchell
• In his interesting article on minority governments (Opinion, 9 October), Martin Kettle argues that the Fixed Term Parliaments Act would prevent a minority government from obtaining an early dissolution. Not so. The prime minister of such a government could put a motion before the Commons calling for a general election. The main opposition party could hardly refuse to support it, or it would be displaying lack of confidence in its ability to win the ensuing general election. There would then be the two-thirds majority needed for an early dissolution.
But if the opposition did vote against the motion, the PM could resign, and unless the opposition leader could form a viable government, which he would not have been able to do in 1974, the last general election to produce a minority government, there would have to be a dissolution. If the Fixed Term Parliaments Act was able to prevent an early dissolution, it would be harmful. Instead it is merely pointless. The sooner it is repealed the better.
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