The Tory blogosphere has been alive with the possibility of LibDem to Tory defections for some time. Iain Dale wrote about the possibility of David Laws MP crossing the floor. Guido hinted at Mark Oaten MP defecting before Sunday’s News of the World expose (an expose that Dominic Lawson suggests would have cost the NotW £20,000).
This morning Mr Cameron has finally won a defection and it’s… Adrian Graves.
Yes. THE Adrian Graves.
Described by The Independent as "a strategic public relations consultant", Mr Graves was LibDem candidate for Suffolk West in 1997 and 2005. With these words in The Independent Mr Graves has defected to the Tories:
"The arrival of David Cameron at the helm of the Tory party has precipitated a shift in the direction and political atmosphere within the party. Politics is suddenly dynamic and interesting again. Importantly, it now offers – arguably for the first time since 1997 – the only potentially achievable opportunity for "regime change" at the next election…
We need change at the next election: Liberal Democrat centre-ground politicians and thinkers need to consider those choices and opportunities – or live with the consequences. For me, the solution is quite obvious. David Cameron represents the positive, constructive and optimistic politics I believe in. That is why I am joining David Cameron’s modern, compassionate Conservative Party. The time has clearly come for others to make the same choice."
If Mr Cameron is to win further defections it will be important that Mr Graves is treated well. Tony Blair was careful to help defectors Shaun Woodward and Alan Howarth secure plum Labour seats. Charles Kennedy elevated the treacherous Emma Nicholson and Hugh Dykes to the Lords. Mr Graves is hardly in the same league as Woodward and Howarth etc but Mr Laws et al may be watching to see what kind of treatment he receives. Mr Laws is professing his loyalty to the yellow flag at the moment but would he stay in a Hughes-led Liberal party? Mr Graves describes a "nightmare scenario" where a "Hughes-led, left-leaning Liberal Democrat" party "props up" a "weaker Labour administration, led by Gordon Brown". Such a Brown-Hughes coalition would do nothing to advance Mr Laws’ Orange Book liberalism and Yeovil’s MP might yet follow Mr Graves’ example… Mr Cameron would be sure to give him a senior Tory position within months.