UKIP’s next defector?

John Baron MP

Assuming UKIP win today’s Rochester by-election, attention will turn to potential further defectors – almost all of whom would presumably be from the Tories, though there remains potential for an eccentric Labourite recruit such as Austin Mitchell, Kate Hoey or Graham Stringer.

The most interesting name frequently being mentioned is John Baron, the Tory MP for Basildon and Billericay.

The most interesting thing about John Baron is his unorthodox (for a 21st century Tory) line on the Middle East.  He resigned from Iain Duncan Smith’s frontbench team in 2003 in protest at his party leadership’s support for Tony Blair’s war in Iraq, and at the end of 2011 wrote a very interesting article opposing the neocon line on Iran.

UKIP is already fundamentally divided on social/economic policy: seeking to appeal to ex-Labourites in the North while being fundamentally a neo-Thatcherite, low tax, small state, libertarian(ish) party.

If they recruit Baron, their tiny but growing cohort of MPs will include one erstwhile Tory who is among the most pro-Zionist in the Commons (Douglas Carswell), and another who is among the most Ziosceptical.

Meanwhile the bigger picture remains of a Westminster elite increasingly discredited: Iain Martin in today’s London Evening Standard is the latest mainstream journalist to analyse the utter bankruptcy of our political system.

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