Bookshop Barnie: Douglas Carswell on Rebel: How to Overthrow the Emerging Oligarchy

Saturday 28 October, 17:3018:45, Frobisher Auditorium 2Festival Attractions


Bookshop Barnies are nothing less than a reinvention of the book launch format. These salon type discussions challenge the author to justify their work in front of an invited audience of specialists and critics. Unlike most book launches where the most challenging task for the author is to sign so many autographs, Bookshop Barnies force them to take a stand for their ideas.

Douglas Carswell was first elected to parliament in 2005 as Conservative MP for Harwich, going on to win Clacton for the Conservatives in 2010. He came to prominence when, in 2014, he left the Conservatives to join UKIP, citing a desire to see a ‘fundamental change in British politics’. Carswell then resigned as MP for Clacton, winning the subsequent by-election and claiming UKIP’s first seat in parliament.

Carswell was one of the most high-profile advocates for a ‘Leave’ vote in the referendum. However, in March 2017, he resigned from UKIP to sit as an independent MP, but did not stand again in June’s general election, saying ‘Britain is about to become a sovereign country again – I feel I’ve done what I set out to do.’

When he was a Tory MP, Carswell criticised ‘remote and unaccountable elites’ and his condemnation continues in this book. ‘Politics’, he writes, ‘is a cartel. Like the economy, it is rigged in the interests of a few.’ This book suggests that our liberal, democratic order faces a twin assault: oligarchs on the one hand, radical populists on the other.

Rebel is a maverick manifesto with a twist: a critique of capitalism and the dangers of anti-capitalists. It is an argument for liberal democracy and against the illiberalism of contemporary democrats. Even though the Guardian condemns him for ‘exuding unwavering confidence in his own infallibility’, some believe Carswell’s credibility has been undermined somewhat by his various changes of party affiliation. So how should we respond to his desire for revolutionary change?