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I’d like to congratulate Douglas Carswell on forcing a by-election in his Clacton constituency. Furthermore, I hope he wins. I write this not because I’m a UKIP supporter, because I’d take a particular pleasure in seeing the Conservative party suffer in this high-profile Essex constituency or because Carswell is a personal friend. None of these things is true.

What is true is that on the various occasions I’ve met him since he entered Parliament in 2005, and in much of his prodigious written output, I’ve found Carswell to be not only perceptive and intelligent but also, genuinely principled. He’s a debater and thinker who identifies tough issues, immerses himself in research, then comes to clear, intelligible conclusions. That’s rare among MPs.

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