I Feel Sorry For Roger Lord
I feel sorry for Roger Lord. It’s not often I feel sorry for UKIP people, but I do feel sorry for him. What has happened to him is beyond rotten. It is a complete mystery to me how Nigel Farage is able to get away with it. If it happened in my party there would be a civil war. But it wouldn’t happen in the Conservatives because the Conservatives may have some practices which aren’t perfect, and may sometimes take their grass roots members a little too “for granted,” but they do understand the importance of local members selecting their candidates and of the candidacy then being closed, barring some dramatic turn like a criminal offence or death.
Roger Lord, for those who don’t know, is the poor guy who had been selected as the UKIP candidate for Clacton. I don’t know UKIP’s precise procedures for selecting candidates, but I presume this was done in the proper way with a hustings and members attending and a vote at the end. Apparently this fellow has been working and campaigning for UKIP for seventeen years – which is astonishing if you bear in mind that most people didn’t even know they existed before a few years ago. Once he had been selected he should have been safe in the knowledge that this wasn’t going to change unless he resigned, went to prison, or was subject to some other unusual and debilitating turn of events.
Instead, Nigel Farage saw the opportunity to win over a Conservative and seems to have just said: “You can have this seat. Don’t worry about what the Members or the sitting candidate say. It’s yours.” Didn’t even have the courtesy to tell the poor bloke, who apparently found out with everybody else when it hit the news.
If that happened to me I’d be absolutely raging furious. Wouldn’t you? If Farage had approached Roger Lord and politely asked if he would step aside that might have been a start. But he didn’t. And even then, Roger Lord didn’t select himself for the seat. He was selected by the Members. Apparently they don’t get a say when Nigel Farage is wielding his Rod Of Lordly Power.
I can see that this is a great opportunity for UKIP. But there is a proper way of doing things. In this case Farage should have first approached Roger Lord and appraised him of the situation, asking for his views. He could then have asked him politely if he might be willing to step aside. If Roger Lord was amenable, then Nigel Farage could have called an Extraordinary Meeting of the local UKIP Association (or whatever their equivalent is) and addressed all activists and Members explaining what was going on, explaining that Roger Lord was on board, and seeking their approval for his plan. But that would have completely scuppered his chance to grab publicity with the element of surprise and get one over on David Cameron. So with a choice to do the right thing, or the thing that got him the most publicity, he chose the latter.
But never mind – apparently there is an “adjacent constituency” that Roger Lord is going to be “given.” Except, read the small print, he’s not being “given” it at all, but invited to apply as a candidate and if he does so to get “Nigel Farage’s full support.” So either this means that Farage is so sure that he is The Law that his “full support” means certain victory, or his consolation prize for Roger Lord is to send him tumbling backwards to have a do-over of the parts he thought he’d already won. I bet he’s thinking: “Yippee! You’re so good to me.”
Maybe UKIP Members don’t care about this stuff? Maybe Nigel Farage is allowed to just do whatever he fancies like some latter day Caesar, throwing yesterday’s candidates to the lions. It seems pretty rotten to me. I’m also amazed that Douglas Carswell would want to win selection in such a rum way. Or maybe he didn’t realise? In which case, welcome to UKIP Mr. Carswell. This is how things are done. Having fun yet?