Thursday, February 19, 2009

Can we measure anything by defections?

I have always had a pretty neutral stance on defections; I neither join the clamour for by-elections nor get hot under the collar about who is going where. However, I note that the London Borough of Hillingdon has seen two pretty high profile defections to the ruling Conservative group in recent weeks. Firstly LibDem Roy Chamdal switched to the Conservatives and now Heathrow's Labour Councillor Santokh Dhillon has joined too. This adds to the heafty Tory majority in Hillingdon and also says something about the way the opposition are working.

Interesting to note the way that the party losing the member reacts; Labour in Hillingdon said it was because Cllr Dhillon spent a lot of time in India and was useless, whilst the LibDems said Chamdal wasn't doing any work for them anyway. Do we really need this? Can't you say that they are good people but you respect their decision - the same right any voter has - to switch parties. Is character assassination really necessary? Won't the public be rightly suspicious to find, for example, the LibDem leader advocating their candidate in a by-election one week and stabbing him in the back the day he quits?

Although the wonderous Parliamentary defection hasn't happened yet, these add to a stream of local government / activist defections. People are saying that you can tell a party on the rise because of the stream of defectors. But how far do the defectors recognise a party on the rise? Which came first - the party strength or the defectors?

Maybe all this tells us is what the polls already show - a very likely Tory majority at the next election?

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