Douglas Carswell, the Clacton MP who defected from the Conservatives to Ukip, has claimed the country is run by politicians who believe the film Love Actually is “a manual” for good government.
Mr Carswell, speaking to The Guardian, said there were too many “mediocrities” who wanted power for its own sake rather than to improve people’s lives.
He admitted being “terrified” and having difficulty sleeping in the weeks before he left the Tories and said he had thought about quitting politics altogether.
But he said: “I thought no, what am I going to tell my five-year-old in 20 years’ time when she asks: ‘Why did you stop being an MP?’ I’ve got as much right to be in politics as David Cameron.”
Instead, he decided to put his “dilemma” to voters in a byelection. He won with a majority of more than 12,000.
Part of the reason for his disillusionment with the Conservatives was that the party had not delivered on many of their 2010 election promises, Mr Carswell said.
And he argued that this was a consequence of the lack of accountability with the voters, pointing to the lack of open primary elections to select candidates and an effective power to recall bad MPs.
“Why do we have to be governed by these mediocrities? Why do we have to be governed by people who read what they read in the Economist and the FT and regurgitate all the failed cliches that got us in to this mess?” he said.
“I think they’ve just watched Richard Curtis’s Love Actually, and think it’s a manual for how to govern the country.
“They want to hold office, but they don’t know what to do with it. They watch The West Wing. They think it’s all about giving speeches, positioning, going to Washington. They’re not in it for change, they’re in it to hold office.”
Love Actually is a comedy film, featuring a number of couples, including Hugh Grant who plays a Prime Minister who falls in love with a member of his staff played by Martine McCutcheon.
Mr Carswell said seven out of 10 seats had unassailable majorities, enabling career politicians to be parachuted in. And they, he claimed, only have to answer to other career politicians within the party hierarchy.
However he said the internet was changing politics in the UK, enabling MPs to build support among voters outside of the party system.
“You can re-personalise politics. The moment I got a blog and a Twitter account I started thinking I can communicate directly with people,” he said. “I don’t need to be a pale imitation of Harry Enfield’s Tory Boy.”Reuse content