I recall vividly the first day of the 2014 Tory conference in Birmingham. As an aside, every Tory conference for the last 87 years has been in either Brum or Manchester. Anyhow, what was memorable about the first day of 2014 Tory conference was that Mark Reckless, until earlier that very morning a Conservative MP, had defected to UKIP.
Every Tory MP was filled with massive amounts of bile towards him – and not just for the defection. “I always hated that (insert pejorative word)” one particular cabinet member remarked within earshot of me, and there were plenty of comments along those lines to be heard over the course of the conference. Many of his former colleagues even expressed joy that he had gone, such was their antipathy towards him, despite the obvious fears of what a second Tory defection to UKIP might do to Conservative electoral fortunes (as it turns out, nothing whatsoever other than possibly even helping the Tories to their majority).
I mention all of this not to pour scorn upon Mark Reckless (as fun as that might be) but to wonder why instead of returning to the Tory fold once he realised UKIP were finished he didn’t just leave politics altogether. What does he expect to get out of it from here on in? The Tories will never let him have a Westminster seat ever again, and I strongly suspect they will take him off the list or at least place him too far down to get elected when next the Welsh Assembly elections roll around. He’s being made to do a walk of shame by his former party – but why do all that if you’re Reckless? He has no shot whatsoever at getting a government job – does he actually think he does?
I’m just genuinely interested in what motivates such an individual to keep at it. Perhaps he thinks that a far-right bunch will take control of the Conservative party and he’ll become DEFRA secretary or something. But even if that happened…..I need to stop. Trying to get into the head of an irrational actor can drive you mad.
To close on a minor electoral note: shouldn’t Reckless cease to be an AM after leaving UKIP? I don’t mean shouldn’t there be a by-election and all that, I mean the man should no longer be in the Welsh Assembly on technical grounds. Wales uses a mixed member electoral system, with the proportional bit of it being closed list. In other words, Reckless got his seat because enough people voted UKIP on the party bit of the ballot – nothing to do with Reckless other than the fact that his then party put him high enough up the list to benefit. I mean, I loathe UKIP, but democratically speaking it’s hard to argue against the fact that Reckless’ seat belongs to UKIP first and foremost, and that with Reckless having fled the fold, the Kippers should get to pick whomever was next down on their closed list as an AM automatically. Or to quote Walter Sobchak: “Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules?”