Douglas Carswell

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Douglas Carswell
Douglas Carswell, May 2009.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Clacton
Harwich (2005-2010)
Assumed office
10 October 2014
Preceded by Himself
In office
5 May 2005 – 29 August 2014
Preceded by Ivan Henderson
Succeeded by Himself
Personal details
Born (1971-05-03) 3 May 1971 (age 43)
London, England
Nationality British
Political party UKIP (2014–present)
Conservative (1990–2014)
Spouse(s) Clementine Bailey
Children 1
Residence Essex
Alma mater University of East Anglia (BA)
King's College London (MA)
Occupation Politician
Religion Church of England

John Douglas Wilson Carswell (born 3 May 1971) is a British politician who in 2014 became the first elected Member of Parliament for the UK Independence Party (UKIP),[1] representing Clacton.[2]

Formerly a member of the Conservative Party, Carswell was elected as the MP for Harwich in 2005 and Clacton in 2010. In August 2014 he changed his political allegiance to UKIP and announced his resignation as an MP, thereby necessitating a by-election in which he stood and was returned as a UKIP MP. 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 and education[edit]

Carswell is the son of two doctors of medicine.[4] He lived in Uganda until his late teens. His father, Wilson Carswell, a respected Scottish doctor and Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, diagnosed the first confirmed Ugandan cases of HIV/AIDS 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] His father's experiences in Uganda were the inspiration for the character Dr Nicholas Garrigan in Giles Foden's novel The Last King of Scotland.[6] Carswell later attributed his libertarianism to his experiences of the "arbitrary rule" of Idi Amin.[7]

Carswell was educated at two independent boarding schools for boys: St Andrews School in Turi in Kenya in East Africa, and Charterhouse School in Godalming in Surrey in Southern England,[8][9][better source needed] followed by the University of East Anglia (UEA), where he was taught by Edward Acton, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in history in 1993. He then attended King's College London, graduating with a master's degree in British imperial history.[10]

Life and career[edit]

Carswell worked as Corporate Development Manager for Television Broadcasting in Italy from 1997 until 1999, and for INVESCO, reporting to the Continental Europe regional CEO, from 1999 until 2005 before entering politics.[citation needed]

At the 2001 general election, Carswell contested Sedgefield, the constituency of Prime Minister Tony Blair, as the Conservative candidate. Blair's majority fell by 7,500 votes with Carswell effecting a swing of 4.7 percent to the Conservatives[11] compared to a national swing of 1.8 percent. In the months before the 2005 general election, Carswell worked in a minor capacity in the Conservative Party's Policy Unit, reporting to David Cameron.

Member of Parliament[edit]

First parliamentary term[edit]

Carswell was elected to the House of Commons at the 2005 general election for the constituency of Harwich, defeating Ivan Henderson, the sitting Labour Member of Parliament (MP), by 920 votes. Carswell made his maiden speech on 28 June 2005 in the debate on the Identity Cards Bill.[12] 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 co-authored Direct Democracy: An Agenda for a New Model Party. This publication was 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".[citation needed] It sets out much of the thinking that has now become central to the Conservatives under David Cameron.[clarification needed] In July 2005, Carswell became a founder member of the Cornerstone Group, led by Edward Leigh, which represents traditional Conservative and Tory values. 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.[citation needed]

After returning from an Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme (AFPS) trip to Afghanistan, Carswell criticised the British military's poor equipment and lack of helicopters that he had witnessed, which resulted in his ejection from the AFPS.[13]

Carswell led a campaign to bring about the removal of a Speaker of the House of Commons for the first time in over 300 years.[14] In April 2008 he became the first MP to publicly call for Speaker Michael Martin to be fired for his failure to ensure greater transparency as to how the House of Commons is run.[15][16] No other MPs were then prepared to speak out against Martin, being strongly discouraged by the likes of Labour ex-minister Denis MacShane who petitioned for Carswell to be disciplined for making this call.[17] Despite suggestions that Carswell would never be called to address the House again, Martin granted him his first opportunity to speak at PMQs the following week.[18] Carswell pressed this issue again in September 2008, arguing that Speaker Martin opposed "all reform on principle" of second-home allowances and expenses.[15] In May 2009, he then put forward the motion of no confidence, backed by 22 MPs, triggering Martin's downfall in June.[19]

In December 2009, Carswell tabled a Bill in the House of Commons calling for a public referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union.[20] In February 2010, he asked Gus O'Donnell to suspend Cabinet meetings held outside London,[21] when it was found that the government was using them to host Labour Party events in marginal seats.[22]

Second parliamentary term[edit]

In the newly created constituency of Clacton at the 2010 general election, Carswell increased his majority over Henderson to 12,068 votes. The UK Independence Party decided not to field a candidate against Carswell in the 2010 general election. Instead, UKIP actively campaigned in support of his re-election in view of his staunch anti-EU views.[23]

In the first week of the new parliamentary session of the Conservative-led Government, Carswell revealed he intended to force a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon, over the need to resolve an oversight of apportionment in the European Parliament by re-ratifying the Treaty.[24][25]

On 28 August 2014, Carswell defected from the Conservatives to the UK Independence Party. Although not required to do so, he resigned his seat as an MP, thus triggering a by-election.[26] Less than a month before switching parties, Carswell had signed off a letter describing UKIP as a "one policy party". He later said he had been "decidedly cool towards the sentiments of the letter."[7][27]

Clacton by-election[edit]

Following Carswell's resignation Roger Lord, UKIP's nominated candidate for the 2015 general election, declared that he still wanted to stand, although the UKIP National Executive Committee voted to select Carswell.[28] Two early opinion polls showed Carswell with a substantial lead. At the by-election on 9 October 2014, Carswell was successful, with a substantial majority of 12,404 votes over his nearest rival.

Political positions[edit]

Dod's political biography of Carswell describes him as being "tall and Eurosceptic ... one of his party's radical thinkers".[citation needed] The Economist has dubbed him "the thinking man's [U]kipper".[29] Carswell was described in The Sunday Times in July 2008 as 'one of the energetic young Tory modernisers elected to the Commons in 2005'.[18]

Carswell has become known at Westminster for being an outspoken advocate of political reform and action to clean up British politics.[30] He has proposed radical change to force politicians to answer outwardly to the electorate, rather than just amongst other politicians.[31][clarification needed] In recognition of his stance, the Daily Telegraph nominated him a Briton of the Year 2009,[32] and Spectator readers voted him their choice as Parliamentarian of the Year in the same year.[33]

His policy positions reflect his drive for making politics more responsible, and favoriing localism. For instance he supports the use of open primary elections to select party candidates.[7] Similarly, he believes police should be under the control of elected Sheriffs who would also determine local sentencing guidelines.[7] Carswell was the only Conservative MP returned at the 2010 general election to have openly advocated proportional representation.[34] Carswell also supports scrapping all MPs' expenses with the exception of those covering travel costs and the costs of running an office.[7]

On health, Carswell a system of personal health accounts, viewing the current National Health Service as "the national sickness service". The health account policy is based on a proposal by Daniel Hannan as an alternative to the NHS in which individuals have personal health accounts, and use these to purchase treatment from public or private sources.[35]

On immigration, Carswell appears to favour moderate levels of immigration based on skill and work-capacity. Speaking after joining UKIP, Carswell emphasised that he was "not against immigration" and "We should welcome those that want to come here to contribute ... There's hardly a hospital, GP surgery or supermarket in the country that could run without that skill and drive."[7]

Carswell is sceptical about 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.[36][37] In November 2014, he referred on BBC Radio to humanity as 'fallen' which indicated he holds a conservative Christian belief in a divine purpose for mankind's existence.

Socially, Carswell favours individual freedom. He opposes the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, the War Crimes Act 1991, and the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997. After joining UKIP he vowed to challenge "out of date" ideas about women within the party which he described as "intolerable".[7] He is opposed both to same-sex marriage and to laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Carswell supports the removal of legal protections that prevent companies from firing employees without following legal disciplinary procedures, and rules affording part-time workers the same rights as full-time employees.[7]

Parliamentary expenses scandal[edit]

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".[38][39] In the 2012–13 financial year, he claimed £39,442.86, a larger figure than any other Essex MP. Carswell stated in July 2012 that his expenses had been greater than those of other MPs due to his need to rent accommodation close to Parliament.[40]

Influence in the Conservative Party[edit]

Conservative Party commentator and Daily Telegraph columnist Charles Moore credits Carswell, together with MEP Daniel Hannan, as the architects behind the idea of a Great Repeal Bill, as well as the concept of a "Contract with Britain" offered during the election, the "recall" of MPs who have displeased their constituents, open primaries for the selection of parliamentary candidates, and plans for elected police commissioners." 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, "enthusiastically lifted several bits of The Plan", the best-selling moderniser book written by Carswell and co-author Daniel Hannan.[41]

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.[42] 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 political thinking.[43]

Carswell has frequently been invited to speak at conferences and seminars on a range of policy topics in which he had no formal role within the Conservative Party, such as reform of the criminal justice system,[44] constitutional reform,[45] 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. ^ BBC News, "UKIP gains first elected MP with Clacton win". Accessed 10 October 2014.
  2. ^ Meikle, James (24 January 2014). "Tory MP Douglas Carswell gives Twitter report as he collars shoplifter". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  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. ^ Pells, Rachael (10 October 2014). "Douglas Carswell profile: A prolific blogger who makes his own jam". The Independent. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Wright, Oliver (10 October 2014). "Clacton by-election: 12 facts about Ukip's new MP Douglas Carswell". The Independent. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  8. ^ Chorley, Matt (9 October 2014). "Happy birthday, Dave! Farage on the verge of securing Ukip's first elected MP – giving Cameron a headache on his 48th birthday". Daily Mail. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "Douglas Carswell MP". ConservativeHome. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  10. ^ "Who Is Douglas Carswell? What You Need To Know". Sky News. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "Results & Constituencies: Sedgefield". BBC. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  12. ^ "Identity Cards Bill (28 June 2005)". Hansard. Parliament. 28 June 2005. Retrieved 14 May 2010. 
  13. ^ Calvert, Jonathan; Rowell, Andy (31 August 2008). "Tory MP Douglas Carswell 'punished' for damning army kit". The Sunday Times (London). 
  14. ^ "Political Biographies, Constituency & MP Profiles, News, Online Bookshop". DodOnline. Retrieved 31 July 2009. 
  15. ^ a b Carlin, Brendan (28 September 2008). "Tory MP launches fresh bid to oust 'touchy, stubborn' Speaker". Daily Mail (London). 
  16. ^ Carswell, Douglas (13 April 2008). "Fearless Tory becomes first MP to call for Speaker to quit". Daily Mail (London). 
  17. ^ Hencke, David (14 April 2008). "Tory MP under fire for calling on Speaker to step down". The Guardian (London). 
  18. ^ a b Robinson, Stephen (27 July 2008). "Michael Martin: the speaker cornered". The Sunday Times (London). 
  19. ^ "Speaker quits 'for sake of unity'". BBC News. 19 May 2009. 
  20. ^ "European Union Membership (Referendum) Bill 2009-10". UK Parliament. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  21. ^ Coates, Sam; Ralph, Alex (18 February 2010). "Labour uses Cabinet tour to rally party for election". The Times (London). 
  22. ^ Kirkup, James (18 February 2010). "Ministers using Cabinet meetings to hold Labour events". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  23. ^
  24. ^ Groves, Jason (17 May 2010). "Eurosceptics in plot to force vote on Lisbon Treaty". Daily Mail (London). 
  25. ^ "MPs poised to renew calls for Lisbon Treaty referendum". BBC News. 16 May 2010. 
  26. ^ Watt, Nicholas (28 August 2014). "Tory MP Douglas Carswell defects to Ukip and forces byelection". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  27. ^ Swinford, Steven (7 October 2014). "Douglas Carswell signed off letter attacking Ukip a month before defecting". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  28. ^ Quinn, Ben (28 August 2014). "Ukip Clacton candidate calls Carswell's attempt to stand 'bad manners'". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  29. ^ The thinking man's kipper The Economist. 28 August 2014. 9 October 2014
  30. ^ Moore, Charles (16 October 2009). "There's nothing swivel-eyed about rebuilding Britain's democracy". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  31. ^ Wheeler, Brian (22 May 2009). "Time for a Westminster revolution?". BBC News. 
  32. ^ "Britons of the Year, 2009". The Daily Telegraph (London). 29 December 2009. 
  33. ^ "The Spectator/Threadneedle Parliamentarian Awards". The Spectator. 12 November 2009. 
  34. ^ Elliot, Francis; Watson, Roland (8 May 2010). "How Cameron's secret kitchen cabinet had to rethink plans for power". The Times (London). 
  35. ^ Toby Helm and Rajeev Syal (16 August 2009). "Key Tory MPs backed call to dismantle NHS". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  36. ^ Hickman, Leo (30 November 2009). "Douglas Carswell: How the facts on global warming have changed". The Guardian (London). 
  37. ^ Randerson, James (4 December 2009). "Climate sceptics: are they gaining any credence?". The Guardian (London). 
  38. ^ Swaine, Jon (3 June 2009). "MPs' expenses: Douglas Carswell claimed £700 in expenses for love seat". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  39. ^ 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. 
  40. ^ "Clacton MP Douglas Carswell defends expenses claims". Daily Gazette. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  41. ^ Moore, Charles (2 July 2010). "Who will admit that the Right ways are not the wrong ways?". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  42. ^ "Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell wrote David Cameron's speech today on devolving power – thetorydiary". 26 May 2009. Retrieved 31 July 2009. 
  43. ^ "Cameron : My Government Will Be "Open, Online All the Time" – Guy Fawkes' blog". 26 May 2009. Retrieved 31 July 2009. 
  44. ^
  45. ^ "Electoral Reform: Right question? Right answer? And who decides?". RSA. 17 June 2009. Retrieved 31 July 2009. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Constituency Created
Member of Parliament for Clacton
Preceded by
Ivan Henderson
Member of Parliament for Harwich
Succeeded by
Constituency Abolished