Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Monday, 17 January 2005

The latest Conservative defector to jump ship ...

Robert Jackson, the Conservative MP for Wantage in Oxfordshire has chosen to transfer allegiance to Labour, and his BBC profile is here.

What has prompted this post, however, is a post this evening by The Candidate, in which she says (or rants, in fact), and I quote verbatim large parts of it, for your 'edification' and enjoyment:

So some old wet has crossed the floor. Robert Jackson, former junior minister and (falls off chair with surprise) supporter of Ken Clarke.

[...]

Now of course sometimes people's views change, but you can make many friends in politics (as well as an equal number of enemies), and to cross the floor while still in office is a spiteful move, which will hurt the most those friends and supporters who have worked hard for you over the years, some of whom will sympathise with your own views.

The decent and noble way to do these things would be to stand down at the earliest decent opportunity (i.e. in May) and then leave it a term or so before joining the other side. To do the act with timing that was clearly calculated to try to damage the party says more about the defector than the party he/she is leaving.

[...]

There is an encouraging side to all this. The rabid Europhiles have clearly admitted defeat if they are now leaving. Good riddance to them. We must be doing something right (no pun intended) if Jackson and his ilk are leaving.

It was largely as a result of the confused policy direction of the wets that did so much to hasten the Conservative decline in the 1990s. OK, we probably would still not have won in '97, but Blair's majority would have been contained at a more decent level, and we could have been so much closer to retuning to power now.

Frankly the only question left is: why did he wait so long?

It is certainly curious timing for an MP to transfer allegiance so soon before the expected date of the next General Election, when he has already decided to leave Parliament at the next election, but it needs to be repeated (again and again, if necessary) that whilst MPs may hold a party whip they are elected, legally speaking, as individuals to represent their constituents, all their constituents - they are not elected as creatures of any political party, even if they generally support one of them. There is absolutely no legal requirement on an MP to resign his/her seat if he/she wishes to cross the House.

I think an eloquent silence is the only appropriate 'response' to the rest of the ridiculous post from The Candidate, quoted above. However, I cannot resist one remark - if this is the standard of argument which the Conservative Party intends to employ in the expectation that the people of this country will give it a winning majority in the forthcoming election, then I very much fear they are likely to be sorely disappointed. My disappointment is that we are likely to be lumbered with another Labour administration, but unfortunately that is a less bleak prospect than allowing the increasingly idiosynchratic and out of touch Conservative Party back into power.

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