There’s not much that hasn’t been said about Douglas Carswell MP’s defection to UKIP and the pending by-election (and the original UKIP candidate who has to stand aside), but it occurs to me that for all his boasting of an “earthquake”, Farage is playing it very safe. He’s obviously relying on some defections and his standing in a seat with a good shot at winning to get UKIP some representation in parliament. Like another supposed big hitter, Boris Johnson, who has declared he’ll stand in the Tory safe seat of Uxbridge.
The funny thing is, both of these men get disproportionate, and very favourable press attention, because they are characters, they entertain. And they’re allowed to dissemble and skim along on the surface, rarely challenged by the third estate.
With this though, it’s clearer than ever that the election coverage will be UKIP (and to an extent Boris) – focused, with a side order of immigration scaremongering, especially with the news that net immigration is up 39%, and primarily due to EU migration, as non-EU migration can barely be squeezed further.
This is going to be a very nasty fight, especially as David Cameron feels squeezed between the crazy wing of his party and UKIP. Labour, of course, will follow the debate and sit squarely within the paradigm set by the right.