UK Politics

UKIP MP Douglas Carswell calls for electoral reform

UKIP MP Douglas Carswell delivers a speech on the second day of the UKIP spring conference in Margate, Kent Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption UKIP MP Douglas Carswell spoke on the second day of the party's spring conference in Margate, Kent

UKIP could call for electoral reform if it holds the balance of power in the next parliament, the party's first elected MP has said.

Tory defector Douglas Carswell said fundamental change was needed to reconnect politics with the public.

He said voters should be able to sack MPs and argued that committees should sign off on ministerial appointments.

Meanwhile, UKIP leader Nigel Farage has insisted he is "fit as a flea" following rumours he was seriously ill.

Mr Carswell, who was speaking on the second day of the UKIP conference in Margate, Kent, said change should not be ruled out because alternative vote (AV) had been rejected in a referendum.

"If we are serious about choice and competition in politics, I think we need to think seriously about electoral reform," he said.

"Just because Nick Clegg's idea of AV was a bad idea, just because the Liberal Democrats are such a bad advertisement for reform, doesn't mean we can't do better."

The BBC's political correspondent Robin Brant said police had clashed with demonstrators outside the conference venue, reporting "several minor scuffles" outside the Winter Gardens in Margate as the two sides confronted each other.

Police estimated there were about 350 protestors on an anti-UKIP march, which took place along the seafront.

Recall bill

At the conference, Mr Carswell backed open primaries to improve the range of candidates in seats and said cross-party Commons committees should have to approve ministerial and senior civil service appointments.

He said he was determined to "break up that cosy little clique called Westminster".

"They are going to have to make a lot more room for UKIP MPs in the Commons in just over eight weeks time," he said.

"Too many MPs become MPs by working in the offices of MPs. We want to open things up."

Mr Carswell said he wanted MPs to "answer not to party whips, but to people".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Former boxing promoter Kellie Maloney apologised for homophobic comments she made in 2004

"That is why we want to bring forward a proper recall bill to give voters the power to sack their MP," he said.

Under this plan, a local vote could be triggered if 20% of the electorate signed a petition calling for their MP to be replaced.

Former boxing promoter Kellie Maloney later received a standing ovation at the conference following an emotional speech.

She was close to tears as she read a poem about a transsexual who committed suicide and was praised by leader Nigel Farage as proof that the party was "open to everyone".


The long-time UKIP supporter began her speech by apologising for homophobic comments she made while standing to become London Mayor in 2004, 10 years before she announced she was transitioning genders.

At the time she said she would not campaign in Camden because there were "too many gays".

"I made a terrible mistake in 2004 when I made a derogatory remark about the gay community and to them I apologise," she said.

"I had to come to terms with myself and accept that I was a transsexual."

Mr Farage spoke to the BBC ahead of the conference's second day to address rumours he was seriously ill after party donors rang him to express alarm.

He said: "I hate to disappoint my opponents but can I please tell everyone now, the rumours of my demise have been greatly exaggerated."

Mr Farage said he had not been seen much in January and early February because he was "campaigning hard" in Thanet.

He is standing for election in South Thanet.

More on this story