Douglas Carswell could become first Ukip MP poll claims
Politician who defected from the Tories is 32 points ahead of his former party in Clacton byelection, says survey by Lord Ashcroft.
Ukip could soon have its first elected MP after a poll showed former Conservative Douglas Carswell has a huge lead in the Clacton-on-Sea byelection.
The survey by Lord Ashcroft, a Conservative peer and former donor, found Ukip has a 32 point lead on the Tories in the Essex constituency. It follows a Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday that gave Nigel Farage’s party a 44-point lead.
Carswell, a staunch Eurosceptic, resigned as a Tory MP and defected to Ukip last week, causing a headache for David Cameron in the runup to the next general election. A byelection has been called for 9 October, the prime minister’s 48th birthday.
Ashcroft’s poll, published on the ConservativeHome website, found Ukip had 56% support, while the Tories were on 24% and Labour on 16%. The Liberal Democrats and others were on 2% each.
Almost six in 10 of those who voted Conservative at the last general election said they would switch to Ukip, as did 45% of 2010 Labour voters.
More than two-thirds of those planning to vote Ukip said a large part of their decision was that Carswell was “the best candidate locally”. In previous polls, more popular reasons for voting Ukip tended to be “sending a message that I’m unhappy with the party I usually support” or “as a general protest that I’m unhappy with all the parties at the moment”. The view that Ukip “have the best policies on particular issues I care about” was the biggest explanation, cited by 81% of the party’s voters.
The Conservatives have not yet chosen a candidate for the byelection, but Boris Johnson, the London mayor, has ruled himself out. A choice is unlikely for another 10 days but there has been speculation the person could be picked from a shortlist by “open primary” – a voting system that allows anyone in the consituency to have a say, not just party members. Conservative sources said this would be a decision for the local association.
Carswell’s defection has caused fears that other Tory MPs could follow suit. Others may wait until shortly before the election to avoid a byelection. Ukip has previously claimed it was in contact with eight Tory MPs.
Amid fears about Ukip stealing their support, a number of Conservative backbenchers are thinking about declaring their support for Britain leaving the EU in their local manifestos. Cameron is arguing that the UK should stay in if it can get concessions from Brussels.
- The Guardian,