I have been catching up on the latest news of defections and deceit in my former bailliwick of Haringey from a coffee shop in Vancouver, where I am speaking at a conference (in the city, not the coffee shop).
I gather that Councillor Brian Hailey, who was not reselected by his branch to stand as a candidate in May, has defected from the Labour Group on Haringey Council and joined the Liberal Democrats. This reportedly followed a meeting with Nick Clegg. (Apparently, there was also a meeting with David Cameron. However, Hailey decided not to follow in the footsteps of another former member of the Labour Group, Alan Dobbie – who was allegedly suffering from a form of post-Mayoral syndrome/folie de grandeur – and join the Tories. Apparently, Hailey found Cameron ‘unimpressive’/was not promised enough.)
I am told by an impeccable source that this is not the first time that Hailey has contemplated defection to the LibDems. He had discussions some years ago (that in itself ought to have resulted in his deselection). Apparently, on that occasion Hailey walked away when his request for a safe Parliamentary seat was spurned. Presumably, this time he has been told that they will meet his demand to be an MP. This in itself is interesting: the LibDems are notoriously ultra-democratic and the centre cannot foist a candidate on a constituency party, so if the offer was made they must have lied to Hailey and he must have been extraordinarily gullible to have believed it.
But what does it say about the LibDems that – irrespective of false promises made – they will accept as a member someone so unprincipled that they are happy to be in any one of the three main political parties and is prepared to join the one that bids highest?