‘Honoured that you are writing my father’s biography’ the late Tony Benn, ‘...wonderfully written’ Hilary Benn

‘Sparkles with fascinating detail…a remarkable story of Liberal and Labour politics in the first half of the twentieth century.’ Michael Crick, Political Correspondent, Channel 4 News

‘Casts much light both on the evolution of British radicalism, and on the legacy which he bequeathed to his son, Tony. Professor Vernon Bogdanor, King's College, London

‘Brilliant biography…wonderful reading about the father and...discovering more about the son.’ Steve Richards of The Independent

‘Well-written and carefully researched, this fascinating biography brings to life a major figure in British political history…an excellent job of weaving together the strands of a complex life…as well as filling in the background of the Benn family’ Richard Doherty, military historian

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

How much is a political defector worth?

When UKIP called a press briefing immediately after the end of the Conservative Party conference, weary journalists trooped down to Bristol in the expectation that UKIP was about to unveil another defector. In the event, the announcement was that UKIP was to receive a donation of £1m, rather than the £100,000 which had been trailed in the media earlier in the day. The journalists were underwhelmed. The difference of £900,000 was clearly not as headline-grabbing as a defector would have been.

So, if a defector would be worth more than £900,000, how much more? When Paddy Ashdown was Liberal Democrat leader he managed to oversee quite a few by-election victories and attracted some inward defectors. Under his leadership the party won by-elections at Eastbourne, Ribble Valley, Kincardine and Deeside, Newbury, Christchurch, Eastleigh and Littleborough and Saddleworth. The party also attracted two inward defectors who were sitting MPs – Emma Nicholson and Peter Thurnham, both from the Conservatives. In his diaries, Paddy Ashdown commented that an inward defector was the next best thing to a by-election victory.

So, the answer seems to be that a defector is worth somewhere between £900,000 and a by-election victory.

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