Lord Andrew Adonis has been busy. Hot on the heels of his book Education, Education, Education, comes his new work Five Days in May, about the fraught negotiations to try and form a LibDem-Labour coalition in 2010, as an alternative to the current LibDem-Conservative government.
Andrew Adonis has also written the foreword to my latest book, which gives the back story to the 2010 coalition negotiations Defectors and the Liberal Party 1910 to 2010 – A Study of Inter-party Relations. I researched the relationships between the major political parties over the century leading up to election day 2010. In the light of what I found, the failure of the LibDem-Labour coalition talks was no surprise.
My research investigated all the MPs and former-MPs who defected to or from the Liberals/Liberal Democrats over a span of one hundred years. I analysed the timing and reasons for over 120 individual defections. Liberal defectors went in roughly equal numbers to the left and to the right. However, of those leaving the Liberals for the Labour Party, over half became dissatisfied or left their new home, whereas all those who went to the Conservatives remained happy in their new party. And this was despite the much closer policy positions of the Liberals and Labour Party.
Not only did my research reveal the differing levels of compatibility between the parties, it found that, given the same set of circumstances, some MPs are statistically more likely to defect than others. Those most prone to defect were male, wealthy, divorced, with a military background and those from a minority religion within their party. I statistically tested Paddy Ashdown’s theory that it is the ‘Toffs’ who are most likely to defect. He was right.
Andrew Adonis is now, very sensibly in view of the history, calling for preparations to be made well ahead of any possible Labour-LibDem coalition negotiations in May 2015, rather than leaving it to the last five days.