I did see this news item earlier or, to be absolutely accurate, early yesterday evening but decided to have dinner at the best Polish restaurant in London (well, one of the two best but this one is a good deal cheaper than the other one).
We have another and quite an important defection from the Conservatives. No, not Douglas Carswell or Daniel Hannan. Heaven forfend. But Roger Helmer, who has had a good deal of trouble with the party and has been semi-detached in the European Parliament for some time, has finally taken the plunge.
I first saw the news on Autonomous Mind (the Boss's great buddy) who linked both ConHome, where Tim Montgomerie does a fair job of explaining Helmer's decision and where the comments are surprisingly well balanced and the BBC news item.
It took him a long time and a good many problems not least the most recent one over who should move up to take his place at the head of the Conservative list when he retires. As readers might recall, Mr Helmer decided to stay on when he realized that CCHQ was going to mess around with the list to prevent Rupert Matthews from becoming an MEP. Now CCHQ can rejoice at having lost an MEP as Mr Helmer will not resign but then nobody ever does when they cross from one party to another. With the party list system that is undoubtedly a problem but so far nobody has managed to solve it. Then again, individual MPs who cross the floor in the Commons refuse to resign and have a by-election so all arguments for Mr Helmer to resign will be ignored.
At the moment UKIP is whooping with joy. But problems will arise. What will happen at the next European elections? Will Mr Helmer stand? If he does he will expect to be top of the list in East Midlands. That might cause some frictions. Even more importantly, just how does the Great Leader, Nigel Farage feel about this? He is, naturally enough, grinning happily as he stands next to the new UKIP MEP. But let us not forget that the question, which is raised every time UKIP does badly in elections about the leader, "if not Nigel Farage then who" will now have a very different answer. It is no longer nobody but "what about Roger Helmer". Interesting times ahead in UKIP.
The elephant in the room.
1 hour ago