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The Surreal Events Surrounding Mark Reckless’ Defection

With an interesting suspicion regarding his reason

Ed: A week in politics is a long time. ‘Events, dear boy, events’ usually blanket out what happened during a week. However, the defection of Mark Reckless which closely followed that of Douglas Carswell deserves to be re-told because it resembles a farce rather than a political thunderclap. The following report is based on information we received by two sources inside the Welsh Assembly who desire to remain anonymous:

Wednesday April 5th:

Source A: Everything began with what seemed, at first glance, to be a reasonably innocuous tweet by a Plaid Cymru AM. He asked when an announcement would be made about Mark Reckless defecting to the Tories. Was this just a snipe at Reckless’s very cosy speech in the Senedd Chamber on Tuesday praising the Prime Minister’s Article 50 letter? Or was it something more sinister?

Source B: Mark Reckless disappeared from the Assembly midway through the morning. His vanishing act began after he had sent his researcher to tell the UKIP chief of staff that Mark had had to go home sick. He had been due to speak for UKIP in a debate in the Chamber later that day.

Over the next two hours, rumours began to circulate on social media – quickly picked up by the mainstream media, of course – that Mark had defected to the Conservatives. Pretty soon, everybody in the Assembly had heard the rumour. People kept asking Ukippers if it was true. But the truth was, we didn’t know.  Reckless wasn’t answering his phone, or responding to texts. And he hadn’t told us Ukippers anything.

Source A: Soon the rumour mill in Cardiff Bay went into overdrive. This doesn’t take much, Welsh politics is not exactly known for being high drama. Very quickly, things started to stack up. Reckless had been in a Committee meeting that morning but left before Plenary, saying he was unwell. He’d also been spotted popping in to see the Presiding Officer. This isn’t something particularly unusual for a Committee Chair, but it’s not exactly an everyday occurrence either. Staffers were glued to social media and Reckless was approached for comment. He had, by then, left the building and wasn’t answering phone calls or text messages. Senior Tory AMs denied knowledge of any defection attempt and by the following morning it seemed the game was up, but still no word from Reckless himself!

Thursday 6th April

Source A: Word got out that a press conference had been hastily arranged to coincide with the lunchtime news on that day. TV crews from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 descended on the Senedd steps for what was billed to be the great unveiling. A tweet from Reckless and a press release from the Tory office confirmed the inevitable, but the star of the show was nowhere to be seen.

Source B: We went outside the Assembly, for a fag in the sun, and found camera crews, staffed by media people who had all been tipped off about the 1pm press conference, which they assumed would be on the steps of the Assembly. ITV were there and Channel 4 News. Nick Servini from BBC Wales started asking what we knew about the Reckless situation. What were the ramifications of his joining the Tory group?

Soon it became clear that ‘ramifications’ were all we had. No explanation was to be had from Reckless, as he had chickened out of his press (re)launch as a Tory member. He was nowhere to be seen, and instead he sent out a press release. Timid!

Source A: Reckless was later spotted escaping the Senedd, with a senior Tory aide in tow, heading for a TV camera further along the waterfront in Cardiff Bay. UKIP Staffers and an AM followed, hoping to get some answers from Mark about why he’d decided to abandon ship. In bizarre scenes, Reckless bolted, with the aide furiously on his mobile, and was bundled back into the Assembly by a rear entrance. He later gave an interview to the BBC from their own studio balcony inside the Assembly estate, having been denied the fanfare entrance he wanted to show he was back in the Tory fold.

Source B: So, what are the consequences of Mark’s switch? Annoyance for the voters of SE Wales, who had voted for a UKIP regional member, only to end up within a year with a Tory one instead. Anger for members of UKIP Wales, who had gullibly put their faith in Mark when they chose him as the number one regional candidate for South-East Wales a year ago. Distress for his own staff, neither of whom had any inkling when we quizzed them on Wednesday that Mark was planning to leave UKIP. Both his Assembly staffers are UKIP members, and both started working for him only fairly recently. There was annoyance also for the remaining five UKIP AMs, who will now have to shoulder the burden of more Assembly and committee work. For one of them there is also the problem that he recently opened a shared constituency office with Mark.

Source A: Reckless had confirmed to ITV that he has lost his committee chairmanship, so that entails the extra money that goes with it. The Tories have said he won’t be a Party member. Plaid Cymru, who ironically broke this story, now face losing a Committee Chairmanship (given Assembly rules on who gets what) and are now the third party in Wales. Of course, the natural reaction is to call for Reckless to resign as an AM, as UKIP have done, but this would only mean giving up the seat to the next on the list and he’s hardly likely to give up his cushy £64K salary, given that he’s already lost the short money from being Carswell’s researcher. [Ed: Carswell had sacked all his staff once he’d defected from UKIP.]

Source B: Will Ukip’s Assembly group miss him? Well, he was generally an effective speaker in the Chamber itself, where he will be missed. However, he offered little outside the Chamber. He stopped attending the weekly group meetings early on in the Assembly term, as they were held on Monday, when Mark was employed to work in Westminster as part of Carswell’s policy unit. Mark made no attempt to skype into the Monday evening meetings, and had no input into any policy discussions in Cardiff. Neither did he attempt to link up policy ideas between his Westminster group of policy wonks and the Assembly group. In that regard, he was a complete and utter disappointment. (I almost said ‘waste of space’.)

Socially, he was an almost complete outsider who took hardly any part in the UKIP group’s communal activities. So, in a way, Mark Reckless, the natural loner, simply fell off the edge of that periphery and drifted off into ‘outer space’. Otherwise known as the Tory group!

Ed: For me, the intriguing part of this, and a hint of why Reckless left so soon after Carswell’s “exit” (25th March) seems to lie in the fact that he was employed and paid for by Carswell as part of Carswell’s policy unit. Obviously, Carswell wouldn’t pay a Ukipper once he himself had left UKIP. Therefore it would be interesting to know if Reckless now still works for Carswell. Furthermore, this chain of events leads to the intriguing speculation that those two could have carefully worked on a plan for some time, so that the timing of leaving so soon after each other was calculated to inflict maximum damage to UKIP in the run-up to the local elections on May 4th.

Photo by National Assembly For Wales / Cynulliad Cymru

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About Vivian Evans (321 Articles)
Vivian is a UKIP patron, Vice Chair of UKIP Cardiff and Editor in Chief of UKIP Daily

16 Comments on The Surreal Events Surrounding Mark Reckless’ Defection

  1. When Suzzane Evans will quit UKIP? Seems like she’s been Carswells useful idiot. I don’t think she can stay much longer.

    • she now has a useful role to do writing the new manifesto! she won’t leave, it would put her debretts entry at risk

  2. AS soon as Carswell resigned I said Reckless would follow, I was attacked by many UKIP supporters but I have been proved right

  3. The much bigger question is ‘what did the Tories offer Nigel Farage to stand down (and cause UKIP to implode) immediately after the referendum?’

    • I don’t think that’s fair. Farage was clearly unhappy as UKIP leader toward the end and quit as soon as possible after the Leave vote. Selfish and inconsiderate, perhaps, but not intentionally damaging.

      Still, there’s hope. It’s only been a few months since UKIP began humiliating itself, and A50 has only just been triggered. Nothing irreversible has happened to UKIP yet. Being rid of Carswell & Reckless, followed by a probable mauling in the May elections may bring UKIP back to its senses.

    • Nigel was pursued, intimidated, and attacked by left wing thugs, while those around him at the top in UKIP stayed fairly quiet or even publicly criticized him. I’m amazed he stayed as long.

    • Anna,

      That’s a bit mean suggesting that Nigel is open to being bribed is’nt it. I think you should take that comment back personally.

    • No Anna. You’ve got that totally wrong.
      The anti-Nigel, UKIP death-wish problems started 12-18 months earlier than his resignation.
      I think finally Nigel decided to lance the boil.

  4. To be honest I don’t think UKIP is going to really miss these two ‘Gonks’!

    • I agree with you 100%.
      Can we now pay more attention to investments of our time and energies into strategies, policies, and practices in support of winning bye-elections and elections?

  5. The most important event is that the Conservatives offered a referendum in their 2015 manifesto, and Brexit won. Quite how we got to that is of secondary importance.

    Carswell defected to UKIP in August 2014. Reckless in September 2014. The Conservative manifesto was launched in April 2015.

    It seems probable that Cameron included the referendum pledge in order to prevent any further defections.

    I will always be grateful to Carswell and Reckless for playing their important role in getting us out of the EU.

    • Toby Micklethwait // April 16, 2017 at 3:12 pm // Reply

      Dear Hugo,

      You say “It seems probable that Cameron included the referendum pledge in order to prevent any further defections. I will always be grateful to Carswell and Reckless for playing their important role in getting us out of the EU.”.

      I worked for a whole 8 days on the Clacton by-election. Plus 8 days on the Rochester and Strood by-election. Involving a total of 8 nights in B&Bs at my own expense.

      Therefore my initial reaction (at their leaving) was irritation. However, as others have pointed out, I have received a good return on my investment.

      Anecdotally: I met Carswell in the street in Clacton and he gave me one minute of his time before breaking free and walking off toward the office. He knew I was unimportant and I respected him for that.

      I met Reckless in the Rochester office and he gave me 20 minutes. If he realised I was unimportant, he concealed it. I appreciated that.

      I am sorry to see them gone. But they did help in getting the referendum and the result and I am grateful for that.

      Regards, Toby, 01932-873557

  6. It is clear that the Tories have used UKIP to stiffen the resolve of their own MPs. UKIP and its supporters have been the moral conscience of real Conservatives. Now that the “job is done” these infiltrators are exposing themselves and wanting to return to what they think is a reformed Tory party. This is pre-emptive as they fail to realise that the Tory party is not reformed and the “job” is far from finished.

  7. Thank you Viv, fascinating! To be honest, I had quite forgotten about Reckless. However, I cannot see how there can be rules that allow an AM to be elected to represent one party and then to represent another without the approval of the electorate he is serving. Otherwise, everybody could stand for any popular party and then, when elected, move to the one of their, not the electors, choice – which makes a mockery of democracy.

  8. Well researched and written Vivian once again you come up trumps with a story that puts together the truth.
    I never liked Reckless despite being present at his defection to UKIP in Doncaster Fall (Autumn) 2014. The following year once again in Doncaster he and Carswell were often together in conspiratorial mode ( according to me)and when I approached him to say a few words he rather brazenly dismissed me mocking my accent which at the time I put down to his crude attempt at banter. I would suppose he still works for Carswell. Despite my deep disgust with the pair they helped in the momentous push to make Cameron the fool to declare a referendum and then of course they did help in the victory.
    Politics makes strange bedfellows and politicians are too often weird so just add his name to the list of traitors.

  9. It must be a strange sensation for Carswell to have a 46 year old man, who appears to have no political will of his own, following him around like a poodle wherever he goes, copying whatever he does politically, but then again, looking at what an odd-bod Carswell is, maybe it isn’t.

    Let this odd couple toddle off into the political sunset together, chasing on the heels of their equally eccentric, & laughably egotistical “leader” Daniel Hannan, & good luck to them, there’s far worse in politics than these I guess, but Reckless’ failure to say a word of regret in his message of quitting to all those UKIPers who worked hard campaigning for his re-election in Rochester & Strood gives an unfortunate impression of him.

    I see he & Carswell are already having to publicly Kowtow to the Tory hierarchy to get get back in there. How embarrassing for grown men to have to behave like this. Well, they’ve made their beds, now …

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