Chris Moncrieff: A perfect storm for Cameron as Ukip rise in poll

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It never rains, it pours. And it has certainly been bucketing down on the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party for about a week now, with no prospect of it easing off.

Indeed, amid the fall-out from the defection of MP Douglas Carswell from the Tories to Ukip, there emerges the very real fear that the subsequent by-election in Clacton will result in the Tories being trounced and Ukip returning its first ever MP to Westminster. In short, the Conservatives will be dead in the water.

Added to all these woes, the Tories discover their target to reduce immigration has been missed by miles – a key issue at the next election.

This has been a very bad day at the office.

At least – rare for a turncoat – Carswell has had the decency, once he changed parties, to resign from Parliament. He has a big personal following in Clacton which returned him, as the Tory candidate in 2010, with a majority of some 12,000. The pundits are now confidently saying that Ukip will smash that in the by-election, and return the popular Mr Carswell in his new colours with a huge majority.

Indeed, a weekend poll puts Nigel Farage’s party an amazing 44 points ahead of the Conservatives in Clacton. If this was transformed into reality, it would virtually sweep the Tories off the map in this area.

This would obviously devastate the beleaguered Cameron whose “promise” of an in-out referendum on the European Union in 2017 is much too long to wait for the impatient British electorate, who are growing
ever more frustrated at what
they see as the EU trying to dominate Britain and make Westminster progressively more impotent.

This is the price politicians pay for giving the electorate what they (the politicians) think is good for them rather than what the voters actually want.

There is also another valid scenario – that Carswell’s action could actually help Ed Miliband into 10 Downing Street as Ukip candidates slash Tory majorities in current marginal seats.

I would not be surprised to see the Prime Minister going very grey between now and the general election in May.

It beggars belief that those who looked the other way when the notorious Rotherham child-abuse scandal was going on are still in their posts. It is no less astonishing that those who committed these crimes are still walking the streets with impunity.

Notably, Shaun Wright, the Police Commissioner for the area, continues to refuse to resign and even expresses pride at what he has “achieved” in this post. The fact that the holders of this entirely unnecessary office were voted in by the electorate means that, except in very rare and specific circumstances, they cannot be sacked. So much for democracy.

So Mr Wright, and those of his colleagues clinging on to their jobs by their grubby fingernails, will be hoping that before long the newspapers will get bored with this story, and it will be forgotten.

Unfortunately, this could well happen, but I would like to see Mr Wright and his cronies pestered morning, noon and night until they have the decency to go. And why don’t the police, who surely know the names of some of those responsible for these acts, start making a few arrests?

Who does this jumped-up tin-pot dictator Jean-Claude Juncker think he is? The new President of the European Commission has told David Cameron to send a woman to represent Britain in Brussels in order to improve “gender balance” on the Commission.

Otherwise, we are told, the UK representative will be denied a key portfolio on the Commission.

What colossal cheek!

It is outrageous that these bureaucrats should effectively try to blackmail us to send someone they want on the Commission and not someone we may want.

Why on earth should we kow-tow to their demands? And why do we tolerate this?

The Brussels despots should be told, in no uncertain terms, that we are a sovereign state – not a satellite – and fully intend to make our own minds up, thank you very much.

congratulations to Lord (Denis) Healey, the former Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer and MP for Leeds East who celebrated his 97th birthday last weekend.

If the Labour Party had shown the basic common sense in the early 1980s to elect Healey as their leader instead of opting 
for the hopeless Michael Foot, 
no doubt the Party’s fortunes would have been transformed for the better.

It is to his eternal credit that, unlike so many of his moderate colleagues, Healey did not go scurrying off to join the ill-starred SDP but stayed loyally with Labour to put the party on its right course again.

Chris Moncrieff is the former political editor of the Press Association.