The first wave of defections from the LibDems to the Conservatives has started. Adrian Graves, a former Parliamentary Candidate, and thoroughly decent, honest, man (I know him through our professional institute) has begun the process and is speculating that at least three MPs are considering following him. Even the mainstream media are joining in. The same link suggests that Simon Hughes would be prepared to give Mark Oaten another chance, once the scandal has died down.
But what scandal? Oaten has had gay as well as straight relationships. But we learnt today that so has Simon Hughes. And, as far as I know, Oaten has never denied being gay, which Hughes did as recently as last week. Hughes even added the hypocritical remark that he didn't think it should affect his leadership chances if he were gay. Yet, he obviously did think it would matter, or he would not have denied it, would he?
Vacillation and hypocrisy by Hughes may actually help the party in the short term. He had recently emerged as front runner for the leadership, which would probably have prompted more defections than any other result. David Laws and Nick Clegg, the biggest names among potential defectors, have both endorsed Ming Campbell in the leadership election, and it would make it much harder for them to defect if he won. That said, a great many Labour MPs voted for Denis Healey in Labour's Deputy Leadership election in 1981, only to defect to the SDP weeks later.