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Tory MP defects to Labour… a perfectly logical move

MP Quentin Davies has defected from the Tory Party and joined Labour.


Given that there is now such little substantive difference between the total regulation centrists of the ‘Conservative’ Party and and the total regulation centrists of the Labour Party, what possible difference could this defection make? It is now such an easy move politically, psychologically and philosophically (though using that word in an article about some political hack verges on hilarious), that I would not be surprised to see MP’s regularly ‘crossing the aisles’ according to the dismal ebb and flow of political fortunes in Westminster.

In fact, why not just merge the two parties and call them the Tory Labour Party? That way people on the dismal left and dismal right who think political power exists for the purposes of control for control’s sake, will have an openly unified ideology free home for their votes rather than the current fiction of a two party system.

Of course if you want to have an actual conservative party to vote for in Britain, you have UKIP, whilst genuine philosophically motivated lefties can vote LibDem.

24 comments to Tory MP defects to Labour… a perfectly logical move

  • Julian Taylor

    Good riddance. As you say, such a move is just shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic.

  • Maybe the party names need to be:

    The Unionist Social Democratic Party (Con)
    The Workers Social Democratic Party (Lab)
    The Numptie Social Democratic Party (LibDem)

  • RAB

    I am trying to read the political timing runes on that one, and failing dismally!!!
    Gordon appears on TV with this twat that nobody has ever heard of, the day before Bliar finally leaves.
    What is it supposed to mean or do???
    Overshadow the exit of our “Dear and trusted” leader for the last ten years???
    Gordon seems to me to have lost the plot already, and he hasn’t got his hands on the full script yet!!

  • APL

    ¨MP Quentin Davies has defected from the Tory Party and joined Labour.¨

    There is one benefit, the Tory party is a miniscule fraction more to the right now this total drip has crossed the floor. All we need now is for Cameron and Letwin et al to defect to Labour too, and we could be in with a chance of a Tory Conservative party.

  • Sam Duncan

    It is now such an easy move politically, psychologically and philosophically

    This is true, and if he’d just said that (or some politically acceptable version of it, say, “The Labour Party now more closely represents my views”), his move would have been perfectly understandable. But he didn’t. He said that the Tories have been taken over by PR and “no longer stand for anything”. Which is also true, but this has prompted him to defect to Labour? This is like someone dissatisfied with Britain’s climate emigrating to Ireland.

    It would appear at least one of his real reasons for defecting is his distaste for his former leader’s calls for a referendum over the EU Constitution (sorry, I mean the Teeny-Weeny-Mini-Treatyette That Only Alters Very Minor Aspects, of course). But saying that might not have gone down too well with the Conservatives who voted for him, would it? (The irony in all of this being that I don’t suppose there’s anyone in Britian who believes Cameron really wants one either.)

    God, I hate politics.

  • Bob Mologna

    So, no change then really. Please forgive this off topic comment but I just saw something in the Telegraph that I thought might be appreciated here: it seems that “From July 1 smoking will be banned in all enclosed public spaces with the exception of care homes, prisons and royal palaces.”.

    I knew about the ban all right, but the three exceptions seem quite fitting

  • When, oh, when, will we see the emergence of a party which is both socially liberal and economically liberal?

    Despite the fact that this is clearly what most people want (don’t over-manage the economy, and don’t tell my where I can stick what in the bedroom either) we have almost the polar opposite, parties willing to interfere in every part of our lives.

  • guy herbert

    Sam Duncan is right. If you read Davies’s apologia, it is very clear that his sole and overweening motive (as opposed to his pretext) is europhilia. He’s particularly sore at Cameron’s slow-motion plan to leave the ED/EPP federalist alliance in the European Parliament.

    Unless all his other expressed political views have been adopted in order to conform to the party line, and he can’t cope with having no policies, then it is hard to see how joining a party whose values apart from EuroSoc he has opposed could be an improvement for him. (Has he been offered a European Parliament seat or a quango by Gordon’s people? He won’t go back to Westminster.) But then he represents a species of political life that, even though I’ve observed them very close to, I have never been able to fathom.

    In answer to Patrick Bateman’s question: hear, hear!

    As things stand, the Tories are the closest we have. It’s just without the sort of autoptic examination that many libertarians are too distasteful of politics to conduct, that’s really difficult to discern. From an Olympian distance, UKIP look better. QD’s transition, like the Dublin man moving to Kerry, makes both sides better off. But by very little.

    When’s Kate Hoey, who actually seems to believe in several things different from her party, going to cross the floor?

  • guy herbert

    The trouble is, PB is just wrong when he says,

    … this is clearly what most people want…

    They don’t. Most people are highly particularistic, and the country is becoming more so. What they want is for their livelihood and lifestyle to be subsidised or left alone, their tastes to be tolerated, and other people’s to be suppressed.

    Politicians are actually giving most of the people what they want. For the majority an unwelcome intereference is unwelcome to most because it is an interference with them, they are fully in favour of interference itself. They are antifrees.

    For a significant minority (ca.20% in the UK, more in most other countries) people being told what to do is a good in itself, regardless of what it is they are told. (Maybe that’s QD’s trouble.)

    Universalist libertarians are a similarly small minority, perhaps smaller. If we were really in a majority, or, given the nature of the electoral system, anywhere near, then there would be a permanent liberal government and Samizdata’s own rationale of promulgating liberty in an antifree world would be otiose.

  • nick g.

    What has been the function of the Tory party, up until now? If they’ve been the ‘steady as you go’ party, have they held true to that? Or have they usually been wishy-washy, doing whatever their leader says they should do? If they’ve always been a ‘follow the leader’ party, and Cameron is flirting with Labour policies, then this twat is just being faithful to the new lead. The question should then be- “When will David Cameron join the Labour Party?”

  • knirirr

    What they want is for their livelihood and lifestyle to be subsidised or left alone, their tastes to be tolerated, and other people’s to be suppressed.

    Tell them that (as I have done) and they will deny it, probably quoting examples of other people’s habits that they don’t feel need to be suppressed (yet). This is despite the fact that in other conversations they will be quite happy demanding that force be used against everyone else or in their own favour.
    I don’t think that most people understand what they’re doing. They know that they are a good, caring person and that their behaviour is reasonable in their circumstances even if it breaks the law. They know that the rest of the population outside their immediate friends and acquaintances is a hive of immorality and criminality of one sort or another. It is therefore quite reasonable to have laws keeping this horde under control, for without such laws society would collapse!
    I can only assume that something similar to the projection and defence mechanisms that are alleged to be the cause of hoplophobia is going on.

  • Re Davies – They are probably much better off without him.

    Re: ”When, oh, when, will we see the emergence of a party which is both socially liberal and economically liberal?”

    Absolutely – What Patrick said!!

    But I fear Guy may have a point… Most people seem completely oblivious that virtually any law, or regulation, can be used on them as well as other people.

    The test of the desirability of almost any legislation is:

    1 – Can this be twisted to be used on me? To which the answer is almost certainly – probably.


    2 – What would be the impact be, on me, and mine, if it was?

  • MarkE

    Having some experience of the matter, may I beg Grantham Conservative association to be very carefull when selecting their new candidate?

    I moved to Witney at about the time Hurd stood down and did not have a vote when the new candidiate was selected, but I went along to watch. Of those on offer I felt Nick St Aubin was far and away the best, but he was not in favour of capital punishment, and said so when asked. We therefore got Shaun Woodward, who defected to Labour and is now enjoying his reward as minister for creative industries and tourism (!), and is MP for St Helens South.

    Having been burnt once, Witney Conservatives wanted to play safe for Woodward’s replacement so they deliberately chose a pretty but bland candidate with no discernable views that might cause controversy; thus we got David Cameron, who also defected to Labour, but took the party’s name and some of the members with him.

  • Phil: unfortunately, most people don’t mind when it is used on them.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Davies is a rum character; he is a pro-euro Tory, and campaigned regularly for Britain’s entry into the euro, and yet on the BBC Newsnight programme on Tuesday, argued that one of the reasons he wanted to join Labour was that he had admired Brown as chancellor. Jeremy Paxman, the interviewer, did not ask him why, given Brown has kept us out of the euro (one of Brown’s better aspects), that Davies felt at ease with the Labour Party as led by Brown.

    He also made the bizarre claim that over the course of the economic cycle, Britain’s debt position has not got worse, and hence kept to Brown’s vaunted “golden rule”. That is utter rubbish; the government has been borrowing and spending money like water; the govt share of GDP is now higher than in Germany. I see no sign of any strong control of public spending; more likely, we will get big tax rises to cut the budget deficit, and hence squeeze growth and revenues. How does QD feel about that?

    Such MPs make me wonder why they go in to politics at all, other than to provide us with light entertainment.

  • Blair has his next job-some sort of Special Envoy to ‘Palestine’, wherever that is.
    Next stop?
    President of Europe, as everybody said he would be.
    The treaty is in place; he would be the ideal front for a fake ‘euroscepticism’, based on his British nationality and alleged adherence to Thatcherism(so that’s what they were after);
    “Look, fellows, he can’t possibly be a dictator!He is British Thatcher-ite, so Europe is one going-to-go-go place!”
    (I like Chester Drawers).

  • Blair has his next job-some sort of Special Envoy to ‘Palestine”.
    Is it dangerous?

  • tranio

    Here in Canada, we’ve just had a Liberal defect to the Conservatives. Mind you our conservatives have a strong leader, Stephen Harper. A very shrewd, intelligent man and I forecast he will become one of the West’s leading statesmen over the next 10 years.

  • Paul Marks will be editor-in-chief of The Economist on the day UKIP win power in Britain.

  • Paul Marks

    Guy Herbert’s usual argument is that I do not know the people involved in such-and-such a matter, and that my judging them by their public positions and arguments is unfair.

    Guy may well have a valid point generally.

    However, if there is one group of people I do know it is the Conservative party.

    I have been actively involved in the Conservative party for many years. I know many Conservative party members of Parliament, I know people who work for the Conservative party (in London).

    And I can say with total confidence that his position that the Conservative party, under the current leadership, is even vaguely economically “liberal” (which I take him to mean is wanting a smaller government – although, of course, the word “liberal” can mean just about everything and was sometimes used to mean the exact opposite of this in the 19th century) is false.

    I am told that the more “extremists” like myself attack the leadership the better Mr Cameron and co are pleased, so I will continue to do my small bit to please Mr Cameron and his friends.

    As Mr Q. Davies’ letter correctly stated, the present leadership believes in nothing, Mr Cameron and his friends have no principles or beliefs.

    Of course one could say “it is better to believe in nothing (as Mr Cameron does), than to believe in bad things (such as all power to the E.U.) as Mr Davies does”. However, there is no evidence that Mr Cameron will stand up against the E.U. or anything else – and plenty of evidence that he will just go with the flow.

    As for “socially liberal”.

    This tends to be about “sex and drugs”. Mr Cameron has not produced any campaign for the legalization of drugs. As for his personal conduct, I am told that he no longer uses illegal drugs.

    As for sexual matters. Many people have tried to tell me stories of the various perverted practices of Mr Cameron’s associates, however I stop people telling me these stories – I am not interested in the alleged sexual antics of Mr Cameron’s associates.

  • Paul Marks

    I should have typed “even in the 19th century” above (I missed out the word “even”). In the 19th century (at least in Britain) there was, at least a lot of the time, an association between the word “liberal” and wanting a smaller government (in size and scope) – although the word “liberal” was somtimes used (even then) to mean the exact opposite of this.

    As I (and many others have pointed out) this comes from the word “liberal” in English being linked to “liberality” to being “broad” and “generious” – hence the government “helping” people in various ways.

    I am told the French language does not have this problem – as the world libre (I am told) comes from the Latin word libertas (liberty) alone. However, I am not a French speaker.

    However, language does seem to be falling apart.

    For example, the “Economist” (the same publication that managed to produce an article on the Iowa straw poll this week without mentioning Fred Thompson) always describes Mayor Bloomberg (or however that man’s name is spelt) as a “social liberal and fiscal conservative” – this of man who put taxes through the roof (not just the income tax and, even more, the property tax, but also the subsidy-for-organised-crime cigarette tax) and imposes regulations on just about everything.

    Perhaps if I understood what “autopetic” meant it would make sense to me – but I do not believe so.

    As for dealing with nonlibertarians – I have done that all my life.

    What I think is pointless (I can think of stronger ways to describe it) is to put trust in men like Mr Cameron – a man who has no beliefs or principles.

    Take the example of Rudy G. in the United States. He is a moderate Republican, whose position on such things as “gun control” (at least when Mayor of almost totally Democrat New York City) horrifies Perry.

    However, in his first year he cut government spending, and then cut or abolished lots of taxes (in spite of the council and the New York Times).

    Now his chief adviser (and top campaign man) is M. Forbes (sure he has his faults – but he is basically a pro civil society man).

    Now the above is not meant as a pro R.G. advert (if I had a vote I would prefer Fred Thompson anyway), but even this moderate Republican acts in a way that is totally different to Mr Cameron.

    For example, compare Rudy G.s 12 principles to Mr Cameron’s list of values and stuff (whatever it was).

    The 12 principles are clear, they do not go as far as I would (not be a long chalk) but they are O.K.

    Of the list of values that 25% of the Conservative party (according to the offical claim) bothered to vote on, the least said the better.

    Bottom line, if someone is basically on the right side I will make allowances for him (big ones) and I will certainly not expect him to be a libertarian (or even close).

    But if someone is a piece of shit, he should be flushed down the toilet.

  • Paul Marks

    First on Mr Davies:

    If he was just concerned with the E.U. why was he part of Ian Duncan-Smith’s shadow cabinet? And why did he serve as a back bencher under Mr Howard? A leader who pledged to take back (as a first step) fishing policy from the E.U. – remember Mr Cameron has decided to demand the return of no powers at all.

    When Mr Q.D. says that Mr Cameron has no beliefs (principles, bedrock…..) he is simply saying what many other Conservative M.Ps. say in private. It happens to be the truth.

    However, there is a broader problem. It is not just the leader of the Conservative party (otherwise he would not be leader of the Conservative party).

    Nor am I complaining that Conservative members are not all libertarians (I agree with Guy Herbert that such a complaint would be absurd).

    Have a look at local government.

    The lack of interest in reducing council tax in so many towns. And the weird love of “new” (really rather old) fads.

    The “Sack of Bath” and Roger Scruton’s “England a Eulogy” have a point. Many Conservative party people are just not very conservative – they are not interested in conserving things. They want their bright shining “developments” (no matter what they cost the taxpayer, either directly or in subsidies to developers).

    Take the example of Ludlow – a wonderful town that I visited last year.

    The local council are considering a “park and ride scheme” – why? One can walk from one end of town to the other in a few minutes.

    And they are considering a “science park” again, why?

    The reason is – because these things are fashionable (it really is as crude as that).

    Conservative councils all over the country even go in for “fair trade” schemes where they buy high priced vile tasting coffee (and other such) from politically connected producers in the “third world”, people who are often less poor than other people who are not politically connected. And some of this money goes into very nasty, very violent hands indeed.

    Do they know this? Of course they do not – they are following a fad. It is said to be a fashionable thing to do (it is in all the local governmen publications and those of various offical and semi official groups) so they go with the flow.

    Take the example of a town I will call Xville:

    In Xville, a new Town Hall (or whatever such buildings are now called) is to be built somewhere “out of town”, the bus station is already mostly gone, and the Police Station and Fire Station are to be moved out of town as well.

    The town will be dead (it is already in decline [boarded up shops and so on] because of previous “reforms” such as the strange blocks in the road system). But the local councilors and local government officers are NOT corrupt. There are no back handers from developers or anything like that.

    The local Conservatives of Xville honestly believe that they are working for “the good of the town” and are being “green”.

    In the words of Evelyn Waugh modern Conservatives do not try and move the hands of the clock back by a second (which is one reason he gave for not voting). But it is more than that – it is not a matter of allowing natural social evolution, it is a matter of shoving the hands forward (even breaking the clock). Following fads and fashions, in an effort to plan society in a way that Francis Bacon in “The New Atlantis” might have been proud of.

    It is very hard to think of anything that can be done about this. As the people concerned are both honest and well intentioned.

    If it was only Mr Cameron (who is neither honest or well intentioned) things would be much less difficult.

  • Paul Marks

    When I typed (about Ludlow council – of “South Shropshire” or whatever it calls itself) “they are considering a science park again, why?”

    I should have typed “they are considering a science park, again why?”

    A classic “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” moment.

  • Paul Marks

    Or not of.

    I give up.