David Cameron clashed with Douglas Carswell in the Commons two years ago. Photo: YouTube screengrab
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Watch: David Cameron and Douglas Carswell clash in the Commons

Watch the PM clash back in 2012 with the backbench MP who has today defected from his party to Ukip.

Today, the backbencher and MP for Clacton Douglas Carswell announced he would be defecting from the Conservative party to join Ukip. Aside from being a vocal critic of much of what the Tory leadership has and hasn't done in power, he is also known to be forthright in his disagreements with David Cameron.

Never was this tense relationship plainer than in 2012 when the two clashed in the Commons during a particularly fiery PMQs session.

Carswell asked the PM about one of his pet subjects, the role of the civil service. He asked Cameron why he had insisted what Carswell tags the "Whitehall machine, the Sir Humphrey factor" wasn't frustrating reform, only to say a few weeks later that Yes Minister was true to life.

The PM replied, rather pointedly: "I think the Hon Gentleman does need a bit of a sense of humour."

Carswell later told the Huffington Post that it wasn't necessary for his then leader to react so "glibly and slightly aggressively".

"I can do humour, but right now they are not laughing about the budget in Clacton, they're not laughing about the lack of economic growth in Clacton, there not laughing about 20% VAT hike on static caravans in Clacton... I didn't feel it was an appropriate day to do gags in the chamber."

Watch the put-down here:

Video: BBC

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.

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No, David Cameron’s speech was not “left wing”

Come on, guys.

There is a strange journalistic phenomenon that occurs when a party leader makes a speech. It is a blend of groupthink, relief, utter certainty, and online backslapping. It happened particularly quickly after David Cameron’s speech to Tory party conference today. A few pundits decided that – because he mentioned, like, diversity and social mobility – this was a centre-left speech. A leftwing speech, even. Or at least a clear grab for the liberal centre ground. And so that’s what everyone now believes. The analysis is decided. The commentary is written. Thank God for that.

Really? It’s quite easy, even as one of those nasty, wicked Tories, to mention that you actually don’t much like racism, and point out that you’d quite like poor children to get jobs, without moving onto Labour's "territory". Which normal person is in favour of discriminating against someone on the basis of race, or blocking opportunity on the basis of class? Of course he’s against that. He’s a politician operating in a liberal democracy. And this isn’t Ukip conference.

Looking at the whole package, it was actually quite a rightwing speech. It was a paean to defence – championing drones, protecting Britain from the evils of the world, and getting all excited about “launching the biggest aircraft carriers in our history”.

It was a festival of flagwaving guff about the British “character”, a celebration of shoehorning our history chronologically onto the curriculum, looking towards a “Greater Britain”, asking for more “national pride”. There was even a Bake Off pun.

He also deployed the illiberal device of inculcating a divide-and-rule fear of the “shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us”, informing us that children in UK madrassas are having their “heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate”, and saying Britain shouldn’t be “overwhelmed” with refugees, before quickly changing the subject to ousting Assad. How unashamedly centrist, of you, Mr Prime Minister.

Benefit cuts and a reduction of tax credits will mean the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for “equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome” will be just that – with the outcome pretty bleak for those who end up losing any opportunity that comes with state support. And his excitement about diversity in his cabinet rings a little hollow the day following a tubthumping anti-immigration speech from his Home Secretary.

If this year's Tory conference wins the party votes, it’ll be because of its conservative commitment – not lefty love bombing.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.