Sunday, July 01, 2007

On Defections

Steve Richards, writing in the Independent made an interesting observation:

Defections are a wholly reliable guide to the parties' prospects, much more so than opinion polls. In the late 1970s and 1980s all the defections were away from Labour to the Conservatives and the SDP. Even though Labour was often well ahead in opinion polls it lost elections. The defectors knew instinctively which way the tide was flowing.

Since the mid- 1990s all the defections have been away from the Conservatives. That is why the move of Quentin Davies to Labour is significant. His switch suggests that the tide flows towards Labour still. The Conservatives have failed to attract defections in spite of some unsubtle attempts in recent months. They must reverse the tide first.


There is truth in this. Someone like Digby Jones would only accept the Labour whip if they felt in their bones that was the only way to run a department, because the Conservatives and LibDems have no chance at all of getting into government.

The Tories of course are desperate for people to defect to them, and have also been courting some of the independents who have come to Labour. John Rentoul has this bit of gossip about Mark Malloc Brown (the UN chap who criticised the USA):

Sir Mark's recruitment is notable, too, for proving that Gordon Brown is superior at the mysteries of defector management to the amateurs on the Tory side. The Tories thought Sir Mark, who addressed their conference last year, was already in their transfer lounge, waiting for a flight to the land of Cameroon. At 4pm on Wednesday, when his name began to be mentioned around Westminster as a possible minister in the new Government, a member of the shadow Cabinet said confidently: "No chance."

No chance huh? Mark Malloc Brown has not only taken the Labour whip, he's joined the Labour party.

Of course these defections have put Tory and LibDem noses out of joint. When Quentin Davies defected to Labour, some of them suggested that they would "respect" Labour more if we'd have said No to him.

What they don't understand is that unlike the other parties, Labour is not an exclusive club. Anyone who is a citizen of the UK can join. All we ask is that if you are a member of our party, you must not be a member of any other party. We don't do blackballing - that's for the likes of the Bullingdon Club. I shudder at the very idea of rejecting someone because their face doesn't fit. It's a slippery slope to something horrible. Thankfully Labour is open to all comers, and as a result we have the broadest membership base of any of the parties. Members who are cleaners and members who are lords. Members whose names are Quentin and members whose names are Wayne. People of all creeds, colours and classes. This broad church is what makes us representative of the UK, and gives us a sense of what the public wants. This is the reason why we are in government.

Quentin Davies already agrees with us on the EU, and he has admitted that his previous opinions on how we run the economy were wrong and has changed his mind. As for his other views - he is free to argue them within the Labour party and will no doubt find Labour members vigorously arguing back. It is only within the Labour party that he will hear these opposing arguments anyway - and hearing dissenting arguments is a necessary pre-condition to someone changing their mind.

If anyone else wants to join the Labour Party, click here. All are welcome no matter who you are or what your background is. We don't discriminate in Labour.

3 comments:

Hughes Views said...

Proof that the tide really was running in our favour came for me at a business seminar in, I think, 2003. A high-powered presenter from one of the leading management consultancies put up a slide about the positive factors for UK businesses. At number 3 was Labour's probably victory at the next election. It was astonishing having sat through similar presentations throughout the 80s and 90s when such a notion would have got the speaker lynched.

Doubtless some of my friends in the 'real' left will tell me that this just shows how Labour has sold out to big business, I prefer to think that it shows that we've come to realise that the best way to create secure jobs is to have a stable economy and to encourage investors and entrepreneurs to operate in Britain...

MBoy said...

Snowflake, you think Quentin Davies' "defection has put LibDem noses out of joint."

Honestly...you are turning into the next generation David Boothroyd.

Are you related to Mani of Babylon? Sometimes you are so right in what you say (like: speed cameras), other times you are so wrong.

Keep at it though, right or wrong you are always entertaining to read.

snowflake5 said...

mboy - I think I wrote that "these defections have put Tories and LibDem noses out of joint" referring to the defections in the previous paragraph - like Mark Malloc Brown. Obviously with Quentin Davies, Tories were more upset than LibDemsr.

But all the same we did get some LibDems saying that they would "respect" Labour if we'd said No to him. To which I'd reply "why do you care" and also observe that it is LibDem fastidiousnous and tendency to blackball people that has resulted in them being the third party as opposed to the second. Till LibDems get over their facination for "purity" they will never make the big tent that delivers power. Of course LibDems might be happy being the third party, in which case fair enough.

Glad you find the blog entertaining though ;-)