Douglas Carswell

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Douglas Carswell
Douglas Carswell, May 2009.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Clacton
Harwich (2005–10)
In office
5 May 2005 – 29 August 2014
Preceded by Ivan Henderson
Majority 12,068 (28.0%)
Personal details
Born (1971-05-03) 3 May 1971 (age 43)
City of Westminster, London, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative Party (1990–2014)
UK Independence Party (2014–)
Spouse(s) Clementine
Alma mater University of East Anglia (BA)
King's College London (MA)

John Douglas Wilson Carswell (born 3 May 1971) is a British politician. He was the Conservative Party Member of Parliament (MP) for Clacton (previously Harwich) from 2005 until August 2014, when he resigned his seat and defected to the UK Independence Party (UKIP). At present he is the UKIP candidate in the forthcoming Clacton by-election.

Carswell is a Eurosceptic and a libertarian.[1] In 2008 he led calls for Michael Martin to step down as Speaker of the House of Commons over the parliamentary expenses scandal.[2]

In August 2014 Carswell defected from the Conservative Party to UKIP and announced that he would resign as an MP, forcing a by-election, which he will contest as the UKIP candidate. He explained that he was joining UKIP out of a desire to see "fundamental change in British politics" and because he believed "many of those at the top of the Conservative Party are simply not on our side. They aren't serious about the change that Britain so desperately needs."[3]

Early life

Carswell is the son of two medical doctors, and grew up in Africa, where his parents worked amongst local communities.[4] His home was in Uganda until his late teens. His father, Wilson Carswell, a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, diagnosed the first confirmed cases of HIV/AIDS, in Uganda in the early 1980s,[5] and was one of a number of people engaged in drawing the world's attention to the unfolding pandemic.[4]

Carswell was educated at St Andrews School, Kenya, Charterhouse School, the University of East Anglia, where he graduated with a degree in history in 1993, and King's College London, where he graduated with a degree in British Imperial History.

He worked as Corporate Development Manager for Television Broadcasting in Italy from 1997–9, and for INVESCO, reporting to the Continental Europe regional CEO, from 1999 before entering politics.

At the 2001 general election, he was the Conservative candidate at Sedgefield: the constituency of the Prime Minister Tony Blair. Blair's majority fell by 7,500 votes, and Carswell effected a swing of 4.7 percent to the Conservatives[6] compared to a national swing of 1.8 percent. In the months before the 2005 general election, he worked in a minor capacity in the Conservative Party's Policy Unit, reporting to David Cameron.

Member of Parliament

First parliament

Carswell was elected to Parliament at the 2005 general election for the constituency of Harwich, defeating the sitting Labour MP Ivan Henderson by 920 votes. Carswell made his maiden speech on 28 June 2005 in the debate on the Identity Cards Bill.[7] He was a member of Conservative Friends of Israel. Carswell serves on the House of Commons Education Select Committee and the Public Accounts Committee.

Shortly after entering Parliament, Carswell helped to write a publication 'Direct Democracy: an agenda for a new model party'. This publication has been described by The Spectator (2 June 2007) as "one of the founding texts of the new, revitalised Toryism .... written by some of the brightest young Conservative thinkers". It sets out much of the thinking that has now become central to the Conservatives under David Cameron MP. In July 2005, Carswell became a founder member of the Cornerstone Group representing the traditional conservative wing of Toryism. He also founded Direct Democracy, a group of like-minded modernisers within the party committed to making localism the core of the Conservative Party's platform.

After returning from an Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme (AFPS) trip to Afghanistan, Carswell criticised the poor equipment and lack of helicopters that he'd witnessed, for which he was ejected from the AFPS.[8]

Carswell gained notoriety at Westminster, by leading a campaign to bring about the removal of a Speaker of the House of Commons for the first time in over 300 years.[9] He defied convention in April 2008,[2] when he became the first MP to publicly call for the Speaker of the House of Commons Michael Martin to be fired after his failure to ensure greater transparency as to how the House of Commons is run.[10] No other MPs would speak publicly against Martin at the time, and Labour ex-minister Denis MacShane called for Carswell to be disciplined for this call.[11] Despite suggestions that Carswell would never be called to speak in the House again, Martin called him to speak at prime minister's questions for the first time the following week.[12] He pressed this again in September 2008, arguing that Martin opposed 'all reform on principle' on the issue of second-home allowances and expenses.[2] In May 2009, he then put forward the motion of no confidence, backed by 22 MPs, which triggered Martin's downfall in June.[13]

In December 2009, Carswell introduced a Bill before the House of Commons requesting a public referendum on British EU membership.[14] In February 2010, he asked Gus O'Donnell to suspend Cabinet meetings held outside London,[15] when it was found that the government was using them to host Labour Party events in marginal seats.[16]

Second parliament

In the new constituency of Clacton at the 2010 general election, Carswell increased his majority over Henderson to 12,068 votes. The eurosceptic UK Independence Party decided not to field a candidate against Carswell in the 2010 general election. Instead, UKIP actively campaigned for his re-election as a result of his anti-EU views.[17]

In the first week of the new parliament, Carswell revealed he intended to force a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon, when it became necessary to re-ratify it to resolve an oversight of apportionment in the European Parliament.[18][19]

On 28 August 2014, he defected to the UK Independence Party and resigned as an MP. A by-election will be held and he will seek re-election as the UKIP candidate.[20]

Clacton by-election

Following Carswell's resignation Roger Lord, UKIP's candidate for the 2015 general election in Clacton, said he had no intention of standing aside. Lord said Carswell's announcement had taken him by surprise and that he hoped UKIP's national executive committee would give him "a fair hearing". UKIP's party secretary, however, denied that Lord had ever been UKIP's candidate in the by-election and said that the national executive committee had voted to select Carswell.[21]

Political positions

Dod's political biography describes Carswell as being "Tall and Eurosceptic ... one of his party's radical thinkers". Carswell was described in The Sunday Times in July 2008 as 'one of the energetic young Tory modernisers elected to the Commons in 2005'.[12]

Carswell has been an outspoken advocate of political reform, and action to clean up Westminster politics.[22] He has proposed radical change to force politicians to answer outward to the electorate, rather than to other politicians.[23] In recognition of his stance, the Daily Telegraph nominated him a Briton of the Year 2009,[24] and Spectator readers voted him their choice as Parliamentarian of the Year for that same year.[25]

Carswell is sceptical of anthropogenic global warming, believing current climate change to be driven by non-human factors. He came to this position after reading Ian Plimer's Heaven and Earth.[26][27]

Carswell is the only Conservative MP returned at the 2010 general election to have openly advocated proportional representation.[28]

Parliamentary expenses scandal

After being elected in 2005, Carswell originally designated a £1 million flat in London as his second home, and claimed over £21,000 for food, rent and furniture. In 2007 he began renting a house in Thorpe-le-Soken, which he designated his second home, and again paid a deposit and for furniture, including a £655 love seat, from his expenses (see Flipping § Second home flipping). Between 2007 and 2009 he claimed £32,000 in expenses for the house. Carswell admitted to using expenses to buy "an armchair, sofa and some bedding, as well as a few other modest items of crockery and furniture", and commented "I believe this is entirely justified."[29][30] In the 2012–13 financial year, he claimed £39,442.86, a larger figure than any other Essex MP. He said in July 2012 that his expenses had been greater than those of other MPs due to a need to rent accommodation close to parliament.[31]

Influence in the Conservative Party

Conservative commentator Charles Moore credits Carswell, together with MEP Daniel Hannan, as the architects behind the idea of a Great Repeal Bill, as well as the idea of a "Contract with Britain" offered during the election, the "recall" of MPs who have displeased their constituents, open primaries for the selection of candidates, and plans for elected police commissioners."[32] According to Moore's analysis not only is "The localism of the Carswell/Hannan "direct democracy" movement is now good Coalition orthodoxy", but Cameron's policy guru, Steve Hilton, "has enthusiastically lifted several bits of The Plan", the best-selling moderniser book written by Carswell and co-author Daniel Hannan.

Even before the formation of the Coalition, the influence of Carswell's ideas was evident in speeches made by David Cameron – most notably a speech to the Open University made by David Cameron in Milton Keynes in May 2009.[33] Blogger Guido Fawkes, who describes The Plan as a "huge hit, an Amazon bestseller and the all-time best-selling publish-on-demand publication ever sold by Amazon", also noted the influence of the book on Conservative thinking.[34]

Carswell has frequently been invited to speak at conferences and seminars on a range of policy topics in which he has no formal role within the party, such as reform of the criminal justice system,[35] constitutional reform,[36] defence and local government.


  • Direct Democracy – Agenda for a New Model Party[Note 1]
  • "Direct Democracy; empowering people to make their lives better". [Note 2]
  • Paying for Localism[Note 3]
  • Chief author of The Localist Papers[Note 4]
  • The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain – co-written with Daniel Hannan.


  1. ^ 13 June 2005. ISBN 1-84275-057-7
  2. ^ C-change. October 2002. ISBN 1-84275-057-7
  3. ^ Published by the Adam Smith Institute
  4. ^ Published by the Centre for Policy Studies, serialised in the Daily Telegraph May – June 2007. [1]


  1. ^ Meikle, James (24 January 2014). "Tory MP Douglas Carswell gives Twitter report as he collars shoplifter". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Carlin, Brendan (28 September 2008). "Tory MP launches fresh bid to oust 'touchy, stubborn' Speaker". Daily Mail (London). 
  3. ^ "Tory MP Douglas Carswell defects to UKIP and forces by-election". BBC News. 28 August 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Powers, Charles T. (24 May 1986). "AIDS Epidemic Sweeps Through Uganda". Los Angeles Times. 
  5. ^ Schoofs, Mark (4 July 2000). "Proof Positive". The Village Voice. 
  6. ^ "Results & Constituencies: Sedgefield". BBC. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  7. ^ "Identity Cards Bill (28 June 2005)". Hansard. Parliament. 28 June 2005. Retrieved 14 May 2010. 
  8. ^ Calvert, Jonathan; Rowell, Andy (31 August 2008). "Tory MP Douglas Carswell 'punished' for damning army kit". The Sunday Times (London). 
  9. ^ "Political Biographies, Constituency & MP Profiles, News, Online Bookshop". DodOnline. Retrieved 31 July 2009. 
  10. ^ Carswell, Douglas (13 April 2008). "Fearless Tory becomes first MP to call for Speaker to quit". Daily Mail (London). 
  11. ^ Hencke, David (14 April 2008). "Tory MP under fire for calling on Speaker to step down". The Guardian (London). 
  12. ^ a b Robinson, Stephen (27 July 2008). "Michael Martin: the speaker cornered". The Sunday Times (London). 
  13. ^ "Speaker quits 'for sake of unity'". BBC News. 19 May 2009. 
  14. ^ "European Union Membership (Referendum) Bill 2009-10". UK Parliament. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  15. ^ Coates, Sam; Ralph, Alex (18 February 2010). "Labour uses Cabinet tour to rally party for election". The Times (London). 
  16. ^ Kirkup, James (18 February 2010). "Ministers using Cabinet meetings to hold Labour events". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  17. ^
  18. ^ Groves, Jason (17 May 2010). "Eurosceptics in plot to force vote on Lisbon Treaty". Daily Mail (London). 
  19. ^ "MPs poised to renew calls for Lisbon Treaty referendum". BBC News. 16 May 2010. 
  20. ^ Watt, Nicholas (28 August 2014). "Tory MP Douglas Carswell defects to Ukip and forces byelection". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  21. ^ Quinn, Ben (28 August 2014). "Ukip Clacton candidate calls Carswell's attempt to stand 'bad manners'". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  22. ^ Moore, Charles (16 October 2009). "There's nothing swivel-eyed about rebuilding Britain's democracy". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  23. ^ Wheeler, Brian (22 May 2009). "Time for a Westminster revolution?". BBC News. 
  24. ^ "Britons of the Year, 2009". The Daily Telegraph (London). 29 December 2009. 
  25. ^ "The Spectator/Threadneedle Parliamentarian Awards". The Spectator. 12 November 2009. 
  26. ^ Hickman, Leo (30 November 2009). "Douglas Carswell: How the facts on global warming have changed". The Guardian (London). 
  27. ^ Randerson, James (4 December 2009). "Climate sceptics: are they gaining any credence?". The Guardian (London). 
  28. ^ Elliot, Francis; =Watson, Roland (8 May 2010). "How Cameron's secret kitchen cabinet had to rethink plans for power". The Times (London). 
  29. ^ Swaine, Jon (3 June 2009). "MPs' expenses: Douglas Carswell claimed £700 in expenses for love seat". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  30. ^ Gover, Dominic (28 August 2014). "Douglas Carswell and the £650 'Love Seat' Which Mired Ukip MP in Expenses Scandal". International Business Times. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  31. ^ "Clacton MP Douglas Carswell defends expenses claims". Daily Gazette. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  32. ^ Moore, Charles (2 July 2010). "Who will admit that the Right ways are not the wrong ways?". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  33. ^ "Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell wrote David Cameron's speech today on devolving power – thetorydiary". 26 May 2009. Retrieved 31 July 2009. 
  34. ^ "Cameron : My Government Will Be "Open, Online All the Time" – Guy Fawkes' blog". 26 May 2009. Retrieved 31 July 2009. 
  35. ^
  36. ^ "Electoral Reform: Right question? Right answer? And who decides?". RSA. 17 June 2009. Retrieved 31 July 2009. 

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
New constituency
Member of Parliament for Clacton
Preceded by
Ivan Henderson
Member of Parliament for Harwich
Constituency abolished