I was wondering how long it would be before one or more of the Tory-Lib Dem defectors caught that the wind had changed and started making the journey back to where they came from. To be honest, I thought it would be a couple of months away now, but Harold Elletson has fired the starting gun.
To be fair, he hasn’t actually done a double rat. Rather, he is advocating that the Tories and Lib Dems make an informal electoral pact in “strategically important seats” (one would have thought that all our seats are strategically important, so presumably this is code for Operation Fuck the Lefties). His reason for now being the time to do so is on the basis that Cameron has slain his “sacred cows” by saying some nice things about asylum seekers once without making any policy commitment (Michael Howard was constantly saying nice things about asylum seekers, after all he was one – didn’t stop his policy from stinking), some nice things about the environment (he rides a bicycle and gives tinfoil hat wearers jobs so it must be true) and the fact that he won’t be a mouthpiece for big business (show me a party leader who has ever claimed to be the CBI’s bitch. Anyone?).
Who is Harold Elletson you may ask? Well, so did most of us when he joined. Apparently he was an MP before 1997, something which ranks him as a “big beast” in the impoverished game of defection politics.
Welcoming defectors into your ranks is always a risky strategy; once they’ve done it once, there is a real danger that it becomes a habit. Paul Marsden is an excellent example of this. Defectors rarely join for positive reasons; they defect in order to send a message to their party of origin. In a very real sense they never leave. The one thing Elletson is absolutely right about in this article is that we should not have accepted Brian Sedgemore’s defection mid-campaign, if at all.
We saw a swathe of social democrats rejoin Labour in the mid-90s and I have no doubt we will see the same happen with the Conservative Party. The worst thing is, because these people almost always expect (and are given) a reward in terms of prestige for their act of betrayal, when they go back it is actually more damaging to us than it was to the party they originally came from.
Kennedy would be well advised to start moving these people out of such positions where they can do us damage, or at the very least stop giving them fucking peerages. What is the Foreign Affairs Forum anyway? I’ve never heard of it.
UPDATE: Chris Huhne gives a much more appropriate (and constructive) response to Cameron’s tarting.