Quote of the Week!

Coming all the way from Idaho

Thank you to the Idaho Press-Tribune for publishing this story of a night-time encounter between a car and an elephant. It's pretty wonderful.

Bill Carpenter, driving with his wife through the darkness, nearly hit an elephant:

"Didn't have time to hit the brakes. The elephant blended in with the road," driver Bill Carpenter said Thursday. "At the very last second I said, 'Elephant!' "

The elephant blended in with the road? Really? I don't know if I'm convinced by the road-being-a-perfect-camouflage-for-an-elephant theory. But even better is the random screaming of "Elephant!" and hoping for the best. As though if you identify something, it will move. Anyway, it continues:

"So help me Hanna, had I hit that elephant, not swerved, it would have knocked it off its legs, and it would have landed right on top of us," he said. "We'd have been history."

No, Hanna is not his wife. I'm not sure who Hanna is. But I did find this. And this. But that's distracting us from the matter in hand.

Carpenter joked about being involved in such a bizarre accident on what is usually a peaceful church night.

"I don't know what was in the wine, but it must have been pretty strong," he said.

Ah, the church wine. Of course. Elephant-inducing.

 

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

Douglas Carswell leaves Ukip to become independent MP

The Clacton MP quits his party but insists he will not rejoin the Conservatives or trigger a by-election. 

Douglas Carswell has long been a Ukip MP in name only. Now he isn't even that. Ukip's sole MP, who defected from the Conservatives in 2014, has announced that he is leaving the party.

Carswell's announcement comes as no great surprise. He has long endured a comically antagonistic relationship with Nigel Farage, who last month demanded his expulsion for the sin of failing to aid his knighthood bid. The Clacton MP's ambition to transform Ukip into a libertarian force, rather than a reactionary one, predictably failed. With the party now often polling in single figures, below the Liberal Democrats, the MP has left a sinking ship (taking £217,000 of opposition funding or "short money" with him). As Carswell acknowledges in his statement, Brexit has deprieved Ukip of its raison d'être.

He writes: "Ukip might not have managed to win many seats in Parliament, but in a way we are the most successful political party in Britain ever. We have achieved what we were established to do – and in doing so we have changed the course of our country's history for the better. Make no mistake; we would not be leaving the EU if it was not for Ukip – and for those remarkable people who founded, supported and sustained our party over that period.

"Our party has prevailed thanks to the heroic efforts of Ukip party members and supporters. You ensured we got a referendum. With your street stalls and leafleting, you helped Vote Leave win the referendum. You should all be given medals for what you helped make happen – and face the future with optimism.

"Like many of you, I switched to Ukip because I desperately wanted us to leave the EU. Now we can be certain that that is going to happen, I have decided that I will be leaving Ukip."

Though Ukip could yet recover if Theresa May disappoints anti-immigration voters, that's not a path that the pro-migration Carswell would wish to pursue. He insists that he has no intention of returning to the Conservatives (and will not trigger a new by-election). "I will simply be the Member of Parliament for Clacton, sitting as an independent."

Carswell's erstwhile Conservative colleagues will no doubt delight in reminding him that he was warned.  

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.