The sequence of events is all too familiar: the party member claims that the leadership need to listen – generally to Himself Personally Now – and the criticism is muted, constructive, and reasoned. But nobody listens. So the criticism becomes more harsh. Then the party member leaves his party, but still protests a lingering loyalty. And then he starts to cross the floor.
And remember which way he voted back then
So it has been with Dan Hodges, formerly the Colonel Nicholson of the Labour Party, who didn’t get a party leader that was acceptable to him, and so became increasingly embittered, until he tore up his membership card and walked out. Now he has admitted that “Nick Clegg has taken a stand for Europe and against Ukip – so he's got my vote”. The excuses are as paper-thin as ever.
“My starting point was 'What’s the best way to take a stand against Ukip? Initially, that had me leaning towards Labour. Labour are the party best placed to stop Ukip winning outright'”. So what’s the problem? “But I’m not voting Labour in these elections. Not after last night”. Dan has been affronted by a Labour PPB. He loved kicking other parties on their behalf before. But not now.
Then he tells “In any case, voting Labour isn’t the way to stand up to Ukip because Labour hasn’t been prepared to stand up to Ukip”. Where has he been recently, or did nobody tell him about Mil The Younger doing exactly that recently on The Andy Marr Show (tm), when confronted by Nigel “Thirsty” Farage? He missed it.
Instead, he drones on “Ever since Miliband was elected, his supporters have been telling me what a brave and principled leader their man is. So where’s this brave and principled leader been while Ukip have been running round telling everyone to be afraid of foreign families moving in next door, demanding Lenny Henry goes back ‘to a black country’ and selecting a rape apologist as their candidate in Newark ... Miliband was too busy banging on about rent controls”.
See above – which I doubt was an isolated occurrence. And Hodges’ floor-crossing may have been worse: “I was also tempted to vote Tory ... Cameron and his party have studiously avoided joining Ukip in the anti-immigration gutter”. And Labour have not? Or is this just a string of false equivalences? Dan claims he is still intending to vote Labour next year. But don’t you bet on it.
Some drift left as they get older. Others remain where they were as the centre drifts one way or the other. But most of those who cross the floor do so from left to right, and we are seeing the first signs of Dan Hodges following where so many have gone in the past. He normalises his drift by blaming Miliband, whoever made the most recent PPB, and anyone else who doesn’t want to listen to him.
But the journey is down to one person – himself. And it’s never his fault.