Andy McSmith's Diary: The candidate Douglas Carswell shoved aside still feels sore


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Indy Politics

It is hard to judge who is angriest with Douglas Carswell just now – old allies on the Tory Eurosceptic right who feel personally betrayed by his defection to Ukip, or Peter Lord, who until last week thought he was to be Ukip’s candidate in Clacton.

Probably it is Lord, whose latest move is to resign from Essex County Council, after 25 years, forcing a by-election in which he is lending his personal support to a Liberal Democrat.

He is understandably furious that having spent time and money preparing for a campaign to unseat Douglas Carswell, he has been shoved aside – especially as it is to make room for the very same Douglas Carswell who, when he was a Tory, was a great believer that candidates should be selected in the most democratic way possible: an open primary.

“I can’t see what is so special about him,” ex-councillor Lord is quoted as saying, in the East Anglian Daily Times.

“He is not a blinding intellectual light leading the masses towards Nirvana. What insults the people of Clacton is that this was a deal made during a discreet meal in Mayfair in London.”

He sounded exhausted and sick of the whole business when I rang his home, but he confirmed that the EADT’s report was accurate.

No rapprochement yet

It is almost three years since Andrew Neil used the phrase “madder than a box of Nadine Dorrieses” on television – which so annoyed the Tory MP that she retaliated on her blog by calling him “an overweight, orange, toupee-wearing has been.” Actually, he is not a “has been”, but a “still is”, as Ms Dorries learnt to her dismay when she tuned in to Newsnight only to see Neil doing a shift as a presenter.

She took to Twitter to complain: “Women over 50 removed from TV presenting for fear of giving offence and yet we are subjected to Andrew Neil on Newsnight.”

Three years – and they still have not kissed and made up.


The hacking of intimate photographs that Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities had taken of themselves is not funny, I know. But I do think that when the BBC’s 6 o’clock news introduced their report on the scandal, they could have chosen a better turn of phrase when they warned: “Rory Cellan-Jones’s report contains some flashing images.”

A tarnished hero

Congratulations to David Hennigan, a Lib Dem activist who has begun a new job as party organiser in Ashfield, a seat which the Lib Dems came within 192 votes of winning in 2010.

Mr Hennigan is a frequent contributer to social media and Liberal Democrat websites. When, in 2007, a blogger invited readers to name the greatest Liberal who ever lived, Hennigan’s nomination was the former Rochdale MP, Cyril Smith.

He was shocked when his hero was exposed later as a predatory paedophile – not by Smith’s behaviour, but by the attack on his reputation.

“I’m absolutely disgusted that Sir Cyril Smith has been dragged into the child abuse scandal,” he wrote on the website Liberal Democrat Voice in November 2012.

“I knew him very well in later life… I am appalled that his memory is being tarnished in this manner.

“I hope that… the people of Rochdale realise that this witch hunt will eventually clear Sir Cyril’s name.”

I don’t think so.