Elect­ing to leave

For the for­mer Ukip MP, the tim­ing of the June vote couldn’t have been bet­ter

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - LIFE AND TIMES -

I’m sit ting In my of­fice in t he House of com­mons. A large pile of con­stituency case­work is star­ing at me – most of it letters and emails from folk want­ing help on every­thing from pot­holes to lo­cal plan­ning. Just be­fore I get stuck in, I take a quick look at my twit­ter feed on my phone... And I’m com­pletely stunned.

there she is. theresa may, stand­ing out­side num­ber 10 call­ing a snap gen­era l elect ion on 8 Ju ne. none of us had the slight­est inkling this was go­ing to hap­pen.

my first thought is, ‘I’d bet­ter get on and fin­ish this con­stituency case­work quick ly.’ But my s econd i s, ‘ tha nk good­ness I quit Ukip when I did. I got out just in time.’ L At er t H At day I he ad to t he com­mons tea room for a late lunch. there’s an un­easy at­mos­phere. down the Labour end of the room, the pained ex­pres­sions sug­gest that the com­rades are in a state of shock. there are one or two tories, those who got in two years ago a nd were prob­a­bly ex pect ing a quiet sum­mer, look­ing a lit­tle be­wil- de red. Weirdly, I find my­self feel­ing for them all – fight­ing an elec­tion cam­paign is a tough, bruis­ing busi­ness.

I munch my sand­wich sit­ting be­tween the two tribes nurs­ing a guilty se­cret : I’ve de­cided t hat I won’t be stand­ing again. theresa may’s de­ci­sion to call an early elect ion brought for­ward an an­nounce­ment I was plan­ning to make in April 2019– the date we leave the eu. Job done. It’s satur­day Af­ter­noon, I’m in a room full of eight-year-olds help­ing at my daugh­ter’s birth­day party. she and her friends charge around fol­low­ing the in­struc­tion of an en­ter­tainer, while I find my­self co-opted as a sort of un­der­study, when I’m not carv­ing up bits of birth­day cake.

tails are pinned on don­keys. Parcels are passed. games that in­volve lots of rac­ing about and squeal­ing are played. It’s re­fresh­ing that while so­ci­ety has changed in so many other ways, the in­gre­di­ents of a suc­cess­ful chil­dren’s party have hardly changed since I was tear­ing around do­ing ex­actly the same at that age. Hav­ing filled the chil­dren with sugar-based foods of var­i­ous kinds, we hand them back to their par­ents at the end of the af­ter­noon. the laugh­ter and fun have left me in a state of happy ex­haus­tion. Party over (and hav­ing caught up on some sleep ), I get to work on my veg­etable patch. I’m try­ing to plant out sev­eral dozen seedlings( in­clud­ing broad beans and peas ), which have been cov­er­ing al­most ev­ery sur­face in my study, be­fore my mp ad­vice surgery starts in clac­ton.

I’ve had a soft spot for Jeremy cor­byn ever since I dis­cov­ered that he has an al­lot­ment. In an age of in­stant every­thing, gar­den­ing takes pa­tience. It’s all about de­layed grat­i­fi­ca­tion.

there’s some­thing so civilised – or civil­is­ing – about it. or maybe it’s just that gar­den­ing is what you do when you reach mid­dle age...

then again, I once found an an­cient Palae­olithic flint, made by a band of early es­sex folk be­fore there was even an es­sex, while gar­den­ing. It cer­tainly puts things – not least party pol­i­tics – into per­spec­tive.

Rebel: How to Over­throw the Emerg­ing Oli­garchy, by Dou­glas Carswell, is pub­lished by Head of Zeus (£18.99)

I’ve had a soft spot for Jeremy Cor­byn ever since I dis­cov­ered that he has an al­lot­ment

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