Left Watch

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Will Charles Kennedy and any other Lib Dems defect to Labour?

By Jonathan Isaby

KENNEDY Charles looking right There has been a flurry of speculation over the last 24 hours that Charles Kennedy and other Lib Dem MPs unhappy about the Coalition are thinking of defecting to Labour.

The source of the story is unclear and its veracity is definitely in doubt. I regard it as unfounded silly season speculation which the media are happy to jump on (which journalist ever opted against writing a split story?) and is now happily being stoked by the likes of Ed Miliband.

In my political lifetime, I cannot think of a single defection that has actually taken place in mainland British politics which has ever been trailed in the press beforehand. Wherever there have been such stories, it has never come to pass: friends of the individuals concerned have most likely persuaded them against that course of action, if it ever were their intention in the first place.

Clearly there are some Liberal Democrats who are unhappy with working with the Conservatives and the associated spending cuts, but do not assume that they could sit happily with Labour either. Labour's record in government over the last 13 years on civil liberties makes them particularly unsuitable bedfellows as do Labour's centralist tendencies for instinctively localist Lib Dems, to name just two issues.

I am not betting on Charles Kennedy sitting as a Labour MP in this Parliament.