Douglas Carswell

30 NOV 2015

How to resign and spark a tricky by-election - my guide for rebellious MPs

It's not much fun being a Labour MP right now.

Just as you were trying to come to terms with not winning the last election, Jeremy Corbyn takes over as leader. Its not just that someone you used to regard as a bit of a joke is now in charge. He's unelectable.

Yet there he now is, backed up by hundreds of thousands of new members convinced that their Twitter timeline reflects the views of middle England. Worst of all, they are demanding that you tag along with every daft demand – or face deselection.

"People don't speak to each other face-to-face as aggressively as they do on Twitter," said one Labour acquaintance of mine. "Except in Labour branches."

Sooner or later, it will end badly. I hope that some of the saner MPs in the Labour party don't wait to be pushed. Here's my advice on how to jump:

1. Be discreet. If you are going to make the move, don't let on. You don't owe Jeremy and the comrade clique anything. Make sure that the first that they hear of your departure is on the news.

2. Don't make it about you. The mad Maoists in your own party are doing everything possible to make George Osborne a shoe-in for 2020. Progressive reform and the values you believe in are being torpedoed from within. When you jump, be sure that folk realise it's not about you. It's about those reformist values that made you join Labour in the first place.

3. Insist on a by-election. Between 1701 and 1918, a by-election had to be called every time an MP was invited to join the government. Think of it as a sort of confirmation hearing. Insist on a by-election to confirm your move with the electorate. It's the only honourable way. Incidentally, there is no disgrace if they do say "No". What would be disgraceful would be to live life subservient to people you cannot respect.

4. Never call it defection. If you switch parties, you will be frequently asked about your "defection", as if you were some sort of Soviet spy who betrayed their country. It is not you who is the mad Marxist. Remain true to what took you into politics to begin with.

5. Constituents first. Always be available for local people. Hold regular surgeries. Respond quickly to local residents. You never know when youmight need their support. They – not the shower now running the Opposition Whips office – are your boss.

6. Join a new party. If you believe in radical political reform in the spirit of the Chartists, respect the free market, and want to break up the political and economic cartels that increasingly run our country, join UKIP. I did, and I've never enjoyed being an MP more. Many of your party's traditional supporters have already made the move. Come with us. If those are not the sort of things you believe in, then why not run as an independent? Seriously. The days when we can do politics without big, corporate parties is coming.

You did not go into politics in order to be told what to think by Diane Abbott. So don't. Sack your whips. Do the job on your constituents' terms. Free yourself from the shrill tyranny of those who imagine that Facebook likes are more important than votes.

Incidentally, you will have much, much more fun too.

This article was first published by The Telegraph.

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