Newspaper Column

This is how to defect (2): The Story of MP Reckless

“Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke,” – Will Rogers


Buoyed by the acceptance of his new found friends, Reckless said: “We all know the problem of British politics. People feel disconnected from Westminster. But disconnected is too mild a word. People feel ignored, taken for granted, overtaxed, over regulated, ripped off and lied to.”

He said he promised voters in the last election that he could cut immigration, cut the deficit, decentralise power, have a more open and accountable politics and “above all to help get our country out of the European Union”. He said those were promises he could not keep as a Conservative, but could as a member of UKIP.

The former Tory MP could not have chosen a better time to switch allegiance than just a few days to the start of the pre-election year Tory conference. By this time he managed to make himself the focus of his former party’s conference.

In a reaction to Reckless’ defection, the UK Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, described it as “unfortunate”. The Conservative leader said he had not been aware of Reckless’ plans to quit the party but suggested he would not be missed so much in the party.

When the news of Mr Douglas Carswell broke a few weeks ago, my initial reaction was to relate it to Nigeria. I thought to myself that it seemed politicians all over the world are catching in on the Nigeria political “best” practices.

In recent times in the Nigerian political landscape there have been “heavyweight” defections from one political party to another. It is common in the Nigerian system when politicians cross carpet for every imaginable excuses, including failure to win party chairmanship, governorship, councillorship etc. Sometimes defection in Nigeria’s political system could be in sympathy with individuals, groups or affiliates.

Unlike what is obtained in the recent political carpet crossing in the United Kingdom, as exemplified by Reckless and Carswell defections, the Nigerian political defection is not ideology based. In Nigeria, it is more of where an individual politician can strategically place himsefl or herself so as to “eat the spoils of war”. Various reasons have been thrown around for defecting from one party to another, but none has been for ideological differences.

A quick analysis of Reckless’ or Carswell’s defections to UKIP brings up certain ideology failings in the Tory party, all of which, according to them (former MPs) made them feel uncomfortable identifying with the Tories. It is instructive to note that neither of these former members of parliament defected because they could not get their party’s nominations or appointments. No.

Unlike what is obtained in the United Kingdom and other civilised countries of the world, an elected politician in Nigeria is comfortable with defecting to another party without resigning his post to call for a bye election. In the cases of Reckless and Carswell, they both resigned their posts immediately they announced their defection, thereby forcing bye elections in their constituencies. When elected politicians defect in Nigeria, all they do is change their “business cards” to reflect the new political party to which they belong. This is why we still have sitting governors, senators or members of the House of Representatives who have “crossed carpet” carrying on as if nothing changed.

In a layman’s analysis of the constitution, a politician who got elected on the platform of a political party should resign upon defection to another political party. It is a straight forward case.

In Nigeria, all that is needed for a defection is the “defector” and the receiving party. In my country a defecting politician does not go alone, he has to show his support base as a foundation for proper negotiation. At the welcome “party”, his supporters must also make their presence felt. The more you bring to the table, the better your decision making stand in the new party.

And you say politicians are the same all over the world?

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I am an experienced Social Media practitioner with a strong passion for connecting with customers of brands. As part of a team, I presently work on the social media account of a leading European auto company. On this job, I have brought my vast experiences in journalism, marketing, search engine optimisation and branding to play.