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Is there any way the party leadership could pre-empt this to minimise the damage?

Great picture!

If this is true (and the leadership will know if it is) he should have the whip removed for disloyalty.

If it's not true he should issue a statement so full and frank we will be able to use it against him big style if he ever were to defect.

If this is not true one hopes that JC will post a comment here to say so.

Could his association do a Sir Patrick Cormack on him?

The Chief Whip should summon him - and soon. He should be asked outright, be forced to sign a statement condemning Brown and Labour policies and state his support for David Cameron. If he can't do it, he should be sacked.

In the 1980s he supported a group that argued for the voluntary repatriation of black and Asian people

Really, I thought he was the Jewish son of a taxi driver who went to Essex University and joined The Monday Club and became Secretary of its Repatriation Section........

Why someone like him could join up with that group unless sheer opportunism - and then to do The Portillo Walk to the Labour Fringe - well the thought is that he is either mentally unstable or simply has no credible beliefs beyond self

Quite right Justin.

You wouldn't get this story on Platform 10.

Agree totally with Justin Hinchcliffe. Let us withdraw the whip if Bercow will not sign up to collective responsibility. Perhaps he is waiting to stop the news cycle on our forthcoming excellent result in Ealing Southall, where a large increase in votes is almost certain.

The way the boundaries are set up means that we need a huge swing to achieve even a slim majority. In situations like that, collective responsibility and discipline become ever more important. We cannot allow a small band of mavericks to hold us hostage.

I hope Mr. Bercow is a solid Tory who will not defect, just as the rumours about Lord Patten were false. But if so he will not object to signing a statement, as Justin so sensibly suggests.

I see him as a good MP and his intellect is, I think, too much for Labour to handle. If he defects, OK- we deal with that and we get a new MP for Buckingham. If he does not, good!

All this speculation is of no value. If anything, it causes damage.

Frankly, this sort of blog is unhelpful and malicious.

If Bercow does indeed defect to Labour this could be very bad news. The party could be at risk of more defections to the left (Labour/Lib Dems) and to the right (UKIP). Also if he defects, Bercow should resign his Buckingham seat and he should find another seat to fight for Labour.

Just as a general point: defections in whichever direction seem rather indicative of the amorphous interweave between the main partyies' policies nowadays. It does not seem to require a Damascene conversion in a person's core beliefs in order to swap sides.

Voter choice could be likened to washing powder: i.e. whether one prefers Persil, Daz or Omo.

Who knows? it just comes down to power of advertising and personal habit & prejudices (Omophobia?!)

And so with politics. Where are the clear distinctions? Well, firm commitment to an overall EU referendum (not just on currently proposed treatystution) and resolution of West Lothian Question would show clear water from Labour and LibDem.

If there is any question of his defecting the whip must be withdrawn first.

This is where the whip's office will be tested.

We should all remember that this post may be wrong. Tim says it's speculation and perhaps JB has no intention at all of defecting. But if he does, he must be pushed before he jumps.

Tim - there's no mention of this TD story on the homepage, there should be! Big entry.

Andrew Hodge is obviously in the pay of Platform 10. The smear operation has begun.

Justin at 11.48am recommends a very sensible course of action. Let's try and pre-empt this.

There is a link from the homepage, Tory T!

Sorry Ed, you usually put the blog entries at page top, I missed it.

I agree with Baskerville. What a great photograph. I think we should send it to Guido Fawkes for a caption competition...


Erm... it is at page top. Tired. As you were!

Bercow was obviously batting for the other side under IDS. He was the one in the media attacking IDS on a daily basis in support of Portillo when Portillo attempted his failed coup in February 2003.

It's not surprising to find him now making mischief again for another Conservative leader attempting to renegotiate European Treaties.

The lesson for all Conservative Constituencies is clear. If your MP is a Europhile, deselect them before the next election. Or they will deselect you after it.

Patrick Cormack must go and any others, Bromley, up to and including the lovely Ken Clarke, at Rushcliffe.

I do have a lot against Europhiles though, hanging around in the Conservative Party wrecking Cameron's pitch.

In the end of the day it is Constituencies who elect MPs and they should take more trouble to deselect them when they know they have a wrong'un. Quentin Davies' constituency discussed deselection and held back. What a mistake that was.

Any europhiles who've slipped through the net under Frances Maude should also be dealt with - Battersea being a notable example.

Perhaps of all the dissident Tories, Bercow might be welcomed on the Labour benches; its a genuine change of heart, over the course of time. And I don't think he's the type to cause maximum embarassment to the Tories.

The expression on Iain Duncan-Smith's face is one of real contempt. He clearly can't stand Bercow.

I don't always agree with John Bercow, but I really think your article is unfair, based on hearsay and speculation, and not on truth. I'd be interested if you approached him to answer your allegation?

For me, Bercow is a massive asset to British politics, a parliamentarian of the highest calibre who speaks his mind with articulate clarity of the highest order. A lot of his back bench work probably has been very catchy or headlining, but has been of enormous importance in raising a whole series issues. A maverick, maybe, but one that doesn't deserve to be smeared by your speculative article.

If there is any question of his defecting the whip must be withdrawn first.
If it is considered that he is not suitable to be a Conservative MP then he should be expelled from the party.

Otherwise it is as well to point out that removing the whip could actually not only push him into defecting to another party, but also give him a justification for saying he was kicked out and so his defection to Labour was after his being rejected.

This sort of tittle tattle and gossip is suitable for The Sun or some other downmarket red top. It seems that those responsible for this site want dissent and divison more than they want to win.

I am as certain as I can be that the Ed would have had very good, informed, multiple sources on the at least possibility/probability that this might happen. ConHome doesn't post this sort of stuff lightly

This blog is big on talking about responsibilities as well as rights. Well if it wants to portray it self as some sort of 'Grassroots Voice', then it should exercise the responsibility of not printing gossip stories like this which will only serve to increase tension and dissent, and that's not even considering what stories like this do Bercow himself.

If Bercow wants to defect - let him. I'm sure the party is not daft enough to withdraw the whip to 'pre-empt' a potential defection. But if i were in the whips office i'd be doing an Ingram ( ie) 'semi-detached member) if he starts to show any signs of even 'stranger' behaviour... I think a heavy dose of parliamentary p**s taking is in order during debates in which JB is present. He's welcome to be covered in the 'Brown' stuff.

Thank you Tory T. I did attach a 'speculation warning' to this story but I can assure readers that this story's three parliamentary sources are very reliable. I would not have posted this if I did not think it credible.

I like the photograph in the Commons. Brilliant picture!

If Bercow is going to go, let him do it now. I doubt this is just idle speculation - so he needs to be asked outright whether he's staying or going. Personally, let him go. Then we might have a chance of a conservative gain in his seat at the next election.

What has Bercow's Chairman done about this? I would force a showdown and DEMAND a statement commiting him to the party.

Otherwise just move to deselect and get him out so that the local Association can choose his replacement, so if Bercow is going then better it is sooner than later.

Bercow is a particularly nasty pimple on the backside of the Conservative Party,

When he was strutting around with his far-right friends in the Monday Club including Harvey Proctor MP (Hmm) it suited Bercow to put out a racist statement claiming 'the strengthening of our national identity demands a programme of assisted repatriation'.

For some reason or other the Bercow window-dressing has changed, but he is just as obnoxious as the day he stabbed FCS in the back in order to pave the way for what has proved to be a spectacularly undistinguished political career.

Kick him before he jumps. He'll cut a sad figure in the Labour Party, but it's his natural home.

The local Buckinghamshire association should pre-empt his possible defection and deselect him. I know this would only be any good for the next GE.

According to The Guardian's Aristotle:

"Tony Blair on John Bercow: He is "nasty and ineffectual in equal quantity".

It is better to face Quentin Davies style desertions and carry out deselections now while in opposition than in power. It will enable the party to present a united front to voters which will be crucial in winning the next election.

Deselect NOW!!!!!

The effect of all the party swapping that is breaking out could have one positive aspect - it convinces voters that the positions between the parties cannot be all that far apart. It's like the Premier League - West Ham shirt one Saturday, Spurs the next (sorry Iain, couldn't resist it!)

At university Bercow was especially scathing in his attacks on gays and women.

One day a left-wing feminist poured a pint of beer all over the silly little man, who stood dripping wet while everybody - including his fellow Tories - roared.

Poor, unpopular, John. one is almost tempted to feel sorry for him...

...but not quite.

I hope the whips are thinking hard about the real damage, which would of course be a defection not now, but right after we win the next election with a very small majority.

Having said that, speaking as a Eurosceptic can we please drop the assumption that all Europhile Tory MPs and PPCs are defection risks. Many have demonstrated hugely long-term and recent commitment to the party, such as Ken Clarke with his democracy taskforce. And the candidate in Battersea seems to have worked very hard in several prior elections and no danger of defection there. Europhilia is not necessarily the precursor to betrayal folks.

I don't normally disagree with your editorial decisions Tim but I think I do with this.
I'm not a fan of John Bercow but he has emphatically denied that he will defect as recently as two weeks ago.Unless and until he decides otherwise we have to believe him.I don't think speculation like this is either good for the party or fair to Bercow himself.

I agree that not all (indeed probably only a small number of) left wing Conservatives are defection risks.

And don't forget that when John Bercow was chosen to fight Buckingham, he held right wing opinions.

It would be odd if Bercow was to defect, given that the party has, on some issues, moved closer to his own left wing views.

How could any of the three MP sources know whether he was going to defect or not? They could have evidence in which case action could immediately be taken to challenge him or drive him out. As this hasn't happened I assume they have none and it's just speculation, doubtless spiked with malice, personal or political.

If that is the case then this post appears to be part of an ongoing campaign of vilification of an independent-minded and loyal Conservative MP. Will the gossips and back-stabbers smearing on about loyalty really be allowed to destroy the reputation of someone like this. I hope not and, if I'm right, then Tim and this site should be ashamed of themselves and the damage they are doing to an innocent individual and, even more importantly, to the Party we are all supposed to support.

For me, Bercow is a massive asset to British politics, a parliamentarian of the highest calibre who speaks his mind with articulate clarity of the highest order.

I do find sarcasm inappropriate

Editor, I'm sorry but this is far too speculative and the nature of the allegations too serious for idle gossip on a blog as popular as this.

The fact that you site Bercow's opinion on one part of the IDs report also makes me uncomfortable given your connections there. Could you clear up for us your connection with Iain now and what influence, if any, he exercises over editorial content?

I wish we'd stop spinning as though this potential defection is in some way good for us. Let's face it, any defection to the Labour party will damage us - it is never good to be loosing members of your own team and Cameron better sort himself out before any more start thinking of crossing the floor.

So IDS opposes gay adoption but propose to give gay couples a marriage tax break to help raise children?

How does that work?

If JB does defect, this whole report from IDS will look a bit silly when the press highlights that JB resigned at IDS hatred of gay couples.

The fact that you site Bercow's opinion


At the risk of stating the obvious to the anonymous contributor at 15:53, opposition to gay adoption is not the same as hatred of gay couples.

The fact that you seemingly cannot understand this would suggest that it is not Iain Duncan Smith that should be considered the idiot here.

Anyway, back to the thread, I agree with Oberon and Malcolm - posting this idle speculation about John Bercow seems a bit irresponsible and not really any better than the infamous Melissa Kite reshuffle article that provoked such ire a few weeks back.

If a second europhile does defect, can the UKIP trolls finally be satisfied that Cammy is sufficiently eurosceptic?

The problem is that all 3 main parties are interchangeable, so what does it matter if they keep swapping sides? Bercow comes across as arrogant, and no doubt he will do what he sees as best for John Bercow.

The tax break for couples in a public commitment is not merely for the raising of children but for the promotion of stable family responsibility, including coupledom.

One way it benefits society (to take just one single example of many) for a couple to make a legal commitmemt to each other is that it eases the housing crisis. It promotes wealth and community involvement.

The tax break is for couples who are married and in a civil partnership - children or no.


Apologies, I meant hatred of *adoption* by gay couples, not gay couples themselves.

The point being that how can IDS both oppose adoption by gay couples and simultaneously propose a tax break to help them raise children? That was the official reason for the tax break wasn't it? Stability to raise children?

It looks very much like the part about the new tax break applying equally to gay couples was tacked on for politically correct reasons when the author himself opposes any such adoption of children by gay couples.

So IDS does not believe that gay couples should be allowed to adopt children but he was placed in charge of solving social breakdown.

Perhaps appoionitng such a dinosaur and religious but was not such a good idea.

Why does IDs believe that gay people could not raise a child responsibly?

Yawn, please don't try to derail the thread into the old debate on gay adoption which is - and will remain - entirely a free vote issue, and where DD (for example) and DC - and many other Tory MPs - took opposite sides.

Raising children was NOT the only reason for the tax break, please see my two posts above.

I'm glad we have had this post. The editor said that it was speculative and we can now discount any defection should it happen.

Tory T - rememeber this?:

"Mr Cameron declared: "We support marriage, and will back it through the tax system. Some people say it's wrong to single out marriage in this way. I don't care."

He stressed that he was not suggesting that single parents "do a bad job", but stated: "They do the hardest job in the world. It's simply saying that kids do best when mum and dad are both there for them."

Cameron has repeatedly said the tax break is to help raise kids within marriage/civil partnership.

Sorry it doesn't fit your spin Tory T. But Cameron has been clear on this.

And so you have an official policy of supporting adoption by gay couples from a man who for some nasty, prejudiced reason, opposes just that kind of adoption!

..because consider this; your proposal will means £1000 a year bonus for -

#1 Rich married couples with no plans to have children.

#2 Gay couples with no plans to adopt children.

..but nothing for a single mum raising 3 kids.

So what exactly is the point of this tax break?

Well said, Off Message, 15.25.

Michael Davidson, with due respect, gross disloyalty is not the fault of the party leaders who are the victims to it.

It is not all down to Cameron. It is also up to Constituencies to tidy up their loyalties as well. If your MP is disloyal or does not represent your views, it is your duty to campaign and initiate motions of no confidence, and seek his/her deselection.

That is the missing link here, not something Cameron can do much about. He needs ordinary Conservative voters to show their support by deselecting MPs that are disloyal and send MPs to Westminster that are loyal in their place. It's that simple.

If the Conservative Party is to be elected, it requires loyalty and cohesion. It's up to every Constituent, not just Cameron.

Oh do stop spinning.

Of course marriage is the best environment for children. However, the tax break is for all couples who are either married or in a civil partnership and it recognises marriage, and civil partnership, as institutions that benefit society as a whole even if they have no children.

It is a fact that the tax break is there for all couples who make the legal commitment. Because of the positive benefits they bring to society as a whole (housing for a start).

So it breaks your straw man, just as David Davis was perfectly free to take the opposite view to David Cameron in the Catholic agency/gay couples vote, because it is a free vote in our party and our party has no position on it.

This thread is about Bercow, so I won't bother with your attempt to make a conscience issue, defined by David Cameron as a free vote issue, into a party political matter. Remember he has promoted both Nick Herbert and Sayeeda Warsi. Conscience issue; apolitical.

I wish we'd stop spinning as though this potential defection is in some way good for us.

It is.

Well I can only apologise for going off subject.

I just thought it relevant that IDS's bully boy is producing these kind of threads to publicy trash a *current* Tory MP based on no evidence, but no-one wants to talk about why IDS might hate JB (for example JB not thinking that gay couples should be banned from adopting).

No wonder non-religious nut Tories are starting their own ConHome rival!

This is a real low for ConHome.

FWIW, over the last few years whenever Bercow has been on the radio or TV he has left me feeling totally bemused.

It'll be more interesting when Kenneth Clarke, Michael Heseltine, Douglas Hurd, Ian Taylor, Francis Maude et al decide that they've done about as much as they can for the EU by working for it within the Tory party, and its interests are now best served by a noisy defection. Bercow is relatively unimportant, a pawn to be sacrificed at an appropriate moment.

because consider this; your proposal will means £1000 a year bonus for -

#1 Rich married couples with no plans to have children.

#2 Gay couples with no plans to adopt children.

..but nothing for a single mum raising 3 kids.

So what exactly is the point of this tax break?

Posted by: ID(iot)S |

Child Benefit and Tax Credits are paid by the same Agency...I should think the three children bring in considerably more than a piffling £1000 a year to a single mother - who costs us nearer £15000 a year......

Then again we are not talking of scrapping relief on pension contributions which cost £20 billion a year for the few people in a pension scheme....we could abolish that tax relief and raise the basic state pension from £70/week.......

Single parents on the poverty line are getting over £100 a week more in state benefits than couples facing the same difficulties, a new report says.

The huge difference in the treatment of single parents and married couples is plunging millions of children into poverty and encouraging couples to live apart or break up, it said.

The study found that the majority of children passed as poor now come from two-parent homes and increasing numbers of two-parent families will face financial difficulties in coming years.

The report, produced by the family charity CARE, comes at a time of growing concern about the built-in bias towards single mothers in the benefits system.

Lone mothers qualify for special rights to get housing, extra payments in benefits like Income Support, and are targeted by schemes like Sure Start that provide help, advice and childcare.

But the greatest unfairness to couples trying to stay together and bring up children comes from tax credits, the flagship benefit system developed by Chancellor Gordon Brown to reduce child poverty, the report said.

It found that couples have to work nearly five times as long as single mothers to reach the income line where the Government says they have escaped poverty.

And to get there single mothers will be given £132.79 a week from the state in tax credits - over £100 a week more than the £29.55 in tax credits that the couple will be given....The difference is built into the tax credit system, because tax credits are paid to only one parent and do not pay anything to cover a second adult in the family. Two-parent families where the mother stays at home to bring up the children instead of going out to work are particularly hard hit by the system.

In 2004, the single mother would have needed to work for 16 hours at the then minimum wage of £4.50 a week to qualify for working tax credit. She would then have been paid £132.79 in tax credits, taking her income to over £200 a week, well over the £186 poverty line.

The couple, however, would have to work 74 hours between them at the minimum wage to reach an income after tax and deductions of £325 a week. To help them, they would have received just £29.55 in tax credits.

Probably best to abolish the support for the single parent altogether -

No wonder non-religious nut Tories are starting their own ConHome rival!

This is a real low for ConHome.

Posted by: ID(iot)S | July 14, 2007 at 17:42

Of you go then to Platform 10 you heathen

No wonder non-religious nut Tories are starting their own ConHome rival!

'Nut' being the operative word.

It must be admitted that so much attention has been focused on Bercow's bizarre attempts to become a gay icon that we tend to overlook the ultimate act of betrayal by an MP who obtained his seat on the strength of being a supposed Eurosceptic.

His fanatical support for the federast Kenneth Clarke.

What is it with the Tories in Buckingham? Are they men or mice? They should have booted the pockmarked midget into outer space several years ago when he started his scabrous crusade for far-left PC 'values'.

The sooner he goes the better in more ways than one. I've got a bet with William Hill that another disloyal Tory will defect and Bercow would be a double bonus.

But I'm not putting the champagne on ice just yet.

What's platform 10?

I left the Tories myself and felt much better for it. Go for it JB.

I can assure readers that this story's three parliamentary sources are very reliable.

Editor, your sources are not so reliable that they sought to deal with the possible issue quietly -- which is what would have been in the best interests of the Conservative Party. No, these "reliable" people, and you Tim, must be aware that public speculation about defection is only slightly less damaging than the actual thing. By making sure this goes public, you're deliberately harming the Conservative Party and making it more likely that John Bercow goes.

If John Bercow doesn't defect, is the Conservative Party in a weaker or stronger position as a result of this article?

Mark Fulford (and others), the Party is always stronger when all of our MPs support Conservative principles and vote for Conservative values.

It is obvious that JB has been on a leftwards drift during his political career and if he has moved sufficiently away from us then I honestly wish him luck in another Party.

Why begrudge him the right to change his mind? If this is true - and of course a big 'if' - then let's let him go his way and start lining up by-election candidates sharpish.

I have no time at all for JB's current opinions and although it is regular to call for a by-election after a switch I would say that he has moved so far from his original position when selected that it must be demanded this time.

Tim, I entirely support you posting this article. This is a site for the grassroots - let Platform 10 be the propaganda outlet.

Mark (1920): You make some valid points about possibly increasing the likelihood of defection (if you believe it wasn't going to happen anyway) but I'm certainly not "deliberately" hurting the Tories. That's too much. My aim in this post was to share with readers the expectation of MPs that this is going to happen and to begin to reduce the impact when/ if it does happen.

Thanks for your support Geoff!

You had better be careful with this one. First of all you have produced not a shred of evidence that John Bercow is seeking to defect. Secondly, if he is thinking of crossing the House, the hostility on this web site will only serve to encourage the move. Some of you may say "good riddance", but Labour said the same thing to the SDP rebels in the 1980s. Do the Tories really want to follow that example?

I can't understand why so many Tories seem to hate Bercow. He's just a pioneer of the direction to which Cameron is now leading the whole Conservative Party. Why would Bercow defect now, when the whole party is adopting his views? It would have been more likely before Cameron became leader.

Firstly, well said TomTom at 18.14, right on the spot as usual! Secondly, if the editor has had this story on good and reliable authority he is entirely at liberty to post it. It would not come as any surprise to most conservatives if JB did 'cross the floor', as he has had his road to Damascus 'moment' sometime ago and has transformed so much that I often wondered why he is in the Conservative party at all! Better out than in I say!

So Robert, would you like an SDP style split, so that a "purer Conservative Party" could emerge?

Adam , this is not the same as the SDP situation, then the individuals did not significantly shift there views as JB has done,it was that the party was becoming more left wing with the threat of Militant Tendency.The Conservative party currently can not be in anyway described as right wing or even moving in that direction. So do please compare apples with apples please!

I can't understand why so many Tories seem to hate Bercow. He's just a pioneer of the direction to which Cameron is now leading the whole Conservative Party.

Your answer is contained in the second sentence.

No, I don't believe in a 'pure' conservative party, and yes I do believe in a broad church! But to think of yourself as a conservative I would have thought you would have to share at least a number of 'conservative views/ideas', I am not sure that JB does! In fact, if you examine his views on a number of issues he would, to the independent observer(on a blind test basis) be thought of as a member of New Labour I suspect. Do try it and you might be surprised!

Traditional Tory, if you don't mind me asking you, what is your response to my question? Would you like an SDP style breakaway from the Tories so that a purer party may emerge?

Okay, Robert. I accept what you say. I am just a little taken aback that a former member of the Monday Club should want to join New Labour. At this rate, one day he'll be in the Communist Party!

I am not (as was claimed) in the pay of Platform 10. But I am disappointed how this blog puts out troublemaking press releases for the Cornerstone Group dressed up as news stories.

I'll be surprised if the phone line from CCHQ to the editor's office doesn't warm up on Monday morning. Excercise book down trousers time for this one.

There is a great deal of irony here.

When John Bercow was involved in the Federation of Conservative Students (FCS) many years ago, and was at that time on the hard right, one of the things I found most unhelpful about the "Libertarian" faction of which he was a member was that they were always making exactly the sort of comments about any Conservative they considered to be too left wing or moderate which have been aimed at John Bercow himself on this thread.

I didn't like it when John's then friends said that sort of thing about me twenty years ago: I don't think it is any more helpful to say the same things about him today. It will not advance the Conservative cause to start witch hunts against anyone we think might defect.

Another irony - the point when John Bercow started to break with his former hard-right friends wasn't with a move to the left of the party: many of them disowned him while he was Chairman of FCS for "selling out" by working with the then chairman of the party, Norman Tebbit. This was shortly before Tebbit shut down FCS.

People often joke about FCS having been shut down by Norman Tebbit for being too right wing, which has enough truth in it to be funny, but it would be more accurate to say that Tebbit axed them for persistent disloyalty to Mrs Thatcher's government. Before you assume that the current gossip about John Bercow has any truth, think about the implications: his initial break with the hard right came because he was loyal to the Conservative party.

A third irony: quite a few of those who had similar views to John Bercow when they were all in FCS are now committed "modernisers" and supporters of the Cameron project. I would say that these people have grown up: they would say that many of David Cameron's policies are the logical continuation of things they believed in while they were students. There may be truth in both perspectives.

Perhaps the days are numbered for all those who who toppled IDS?

Bercow to defect to labour - wonderful news!
All it needs now is for the rest of his admirers and fellow travellers (Clarke and co) in the party to accompany him. Those remaining can point out how those leaving had little to do with conservatism, were Left wing and probably loved the BBC.

Voluntary repatriation is still government policy and is available in certains circumstances to immigrants who want to return home.
Bercows views on this in the 1980s have been governemnt policy since 1971

Which is worse, Bercow defecting, but thereby finally being honest with himself by at last being a New Labour MP, or, us fielding candidates as supposed 'Tories' like Tony Lit? That's Tony Lit who less than a month ago posed to have his picture taken at a Labour fundraiser, and who had the company he was MD of give several thousand quid to the Labour Party. Him. It's no wonder he's running under the banner of "David Cameron's Conservatives" because he's certainly no one else's idea of a Conservative.

Don't be silly, Act, businesses give donations to the party in power all the time. Fact of life. There were no personal donations and Tony Lit approached us to stand.

Yeah, yeah. Lit was MD of the company (ie the guy in charge, paid to take the decisions), and *he* decided to give Labour several grand. Or are you wandering into the frigid waters of libel and suggesting that Lit didn't know what the company he was MD of was doing with its money?

But no doubt you are right, Tory T, and I am being 'silly'. As, obviously, are the Sunday Telegraph, Mail on Sunday and the Sunday Times. How odd of us all to be equally silly on the same subject at the same time. One might almost think that it is indeed extraordinary, newsworthy and appaling that a high profile Tory by-election candidate could have been such a selfish fool as to do such a thing like this.

And as for the two men, Cameron and Maude, who foisted him on the Association . . .

act, I know it bothers you that with Tony Lit we are seeing amazing results. Businesses give money to the party in power. It's capitalism. No personal donations and it was a diversity event.

Bottom line - see how he improves our vote on the 19th. You been over there to help? I have. We're going to do very well indeed with Tony Lit.

By the way, I worry that there's a very ugly edge to Tory T's patently absurd claim that "businesses give donations to the party in power all the time. Fact of life". No they don't, not unless they support the Party in power. This isn't Panama after all. Or has Tory T really descended to the contemptible worldview that 'this is how Asian businessmen behave'? I do hope not.

Smear away Tory T, it's par for the course for you sadly. Not only do I want the Tory Party to win every election it fights - unlike, infamously, Steve Hilton, to name but one - I'd like an actual Tory to win on Thursday. Sadly in Lit the Party quite evidently doesn't have one standing as its candidate.

Tory T you've clearly not seen the photo of Lit with a beaming Blair splashed across tomorrow's Sunday Telegraph have you?

Lit also won a bid to travel to America to meet Senator Clinton which costs another £5000 which he still has to pay to Labour. When he does, that will means he will be officially registered as a Labour donor.

So a man who will be officially registered as a Labour donor in the past month will be our candidate at a by-election. It is absolutely absurd. The man is nothing like a Tory, but just a weasel-like opportunist. More fool Cameron for parachuting him in.

Defection is an extremely low act and if Bercow does cross the floor it would be a disgrace. In these circumstances the only way of carrying out the act with any honour would be to resign his seat and stand again as a Labour candidate – which is highly unlikely. But as Conservatives we should be careful not to become hypocritical on this issue. Don’t forget that Stuart Andrew, a current Leeds Conservative Cllr and PCC for Putney defected to Labour in 1999 whilst standing as a Conservative candidate for the Welsh Assembly. This was also a total disgrace and displayed political treachery of the worst sort - yet now he is back. Likewise we have welcomed defectors in the Ealing campaign. It’s a difficult balancing act – if Bercow were to defect it would clearly be a despicable breach of trust but are we truly in a position to claim the moral high ground? I’d be interested to hear people’s thoughts.

Defection is an extremely low act and if Bercow does cross the floor it would be a disgrace.

Defection can be an act of courage if it is made though conviction. Defection is an act of treachery if made, for example, through promises of honours and advancement.

If he believes that he can no longer support our policies with a clear conscience and a true conviction then he is better off without us and we are better off without him.

If he goes because he has been offered some inducement then I hope he enjoys having to live in some grotty slum constituency which would vote for a lamppost wearing a red rosette.

Let us first see whether he switches, and then let us see whether he asks his constituents to endorse his decision. Then talk of honour or disgrace can begin.

I'll believe it when I see it.

There has been this speculation for years, the man routinely has to deny it and having put up with IDS/Howard (who are far from his POV), I doubt he will suddenly jump now.

It would be pretty sad if we push him away.

I'm certainly not "deliberately" hurting the Tories. That's too much.

I'm sorry for "deliberately".

The best thing would have been for this issue (*if* it exists) to have been handled privately. You chose to make it public, which must have been what your "reliable" sources wanted. I sniff a whole load of politics and self-interest.

Thanks for that Mark. It certainly was what my sources wanted but the responsibility for publishing this story is ultimately mine and mine alone.

So if someone is unhappy and possibly considering defection, two approaches suggest themselves:

1 - The upper echelons (DC etc.) sit down for a frank discussion with the individual and attempt to address his grievances and, if that fails, appeal to his better nature to minimise the potential damage to his Party by going Independent or forming his own Party


2 - Release rumours to the grassroots, have them blacken his name, howl that we'd be better off without him and endeavour to drive him towards Labour as painfully as possible.

Personally, I'd have followed the first approach.

Surely the general order of priority for any patriotic MP should be 1. the country 2. his constituents 3. his party 4. himself. So there's no dishonour in changing party if he sincerely believes that he must do so to protect the higher ranking interests of 1. and 2. I say any "patriotic" MP because I haven't inserted the EU into the list, but obviously for some MPs the order of priority may be more like
1. the EU 2. his party, as a servant of the EU 3. his constituents, to keep them sweet enough to vote him back in to continue his treachery 4. himself.

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