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Derek Tucker: Defecting MPs are showing voters what they really care about – themselves

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (left) with Bury South MP Christian Wakeford, who has defected from the Conservatives to Labour (Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (left) with Bury South MP Christian Wakeford, who has defected from the Conservatives to Labour (Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Just over three weeks into 2022 and already it’s shaping up to be a bad year on the political front.

As I may have mentioned previously in passing, I have a pretty low opinion of politicians, regardless of whether they are local, Scottish or from the wider UK, and regardless, also, of the party they represent.

Forty years in the newspaper industry gave me an insight into the underhand and unscrupulous world of politics, and those working within it.

With very few exceptions, they were chancers; hostages to fortune who would do and say anything to preserve the perks and privileges which go hand in glove with being elected to council or parliament.

Experience taught me that the oft-heard claim that they entered office so they could serve the public was as fictitious as the manifesto on which they stood.

Notwithstanding this low starting point, even I have been shocked by the events of the last few weeks.

The frankly disgraceful conduct of Boris Johnson has been well documented, but the behaviour of many others, mostly within the Conservative ranks, has been equally bad.

Wakeford’s disgraceful betrayal has already backfired

Take Christian Wakeford, for example (and Labour leader Keir Starmer might well live to regret that he did just that).

This unprincipled charlatan was one of the many Tories voted into office in the 2019 general election in so-called Red Wall seats – constituencies which had been previously staunch Labour strongholds.

He may well wish to think that he won the Bury South seat through the power of his personality and the promises he made to improve the lives of people unfortunate enough to live in a town known only for black pudding.

Those in the real world know he won because then Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was so dull and uninspiring and Boris Johnson appeared to be a breath of fresh air, a bundle of energy who got things done.

Little more than two years later, Wakeford decides to switch allegiance from the party which propelled him to a life of luxury to the polar opposite party.

In footballing terms, it was the equivalent of a Rangers fan announcing he was now going to support Celtic.

The fact that Wakeford defected to Labour, rather than one of the other, less diametrically-opposed parties, suggests that his motives are entirely personal

Not only that, he did this in the most public and dramatic fashions, by crossing the floor of the House of Commons just before Prime Minister’s Questions, joyfully heaping further embarrassment on the former colleagues he was deserting.

It is impossible to imagine a more disgraceful betrayal.

The fact that he defected to Labour, rather than one of the other, less diametrically-opposed parties, suggests that his motives are entirely personal and not designed to protect the wellbeing of his constituents, as he would try to make us believe.

His actions have already backfired, with furious Tories galvanised behind the leadership, and Labour’s left and youth wings horrified that their party has embraced a quisling.

All manner of MPs showing their true, self-focused colours

If Christian Wakeford has an ounce of decency, which events to date suggest he hasn’t, he will now resign as an MP and offer himself for selection as a Labour candidate in the ensuing by-election.

He won’t, of course, because he knows it is highly unlikely he would be selected as a Labour candidate and even more unlikely that the people of Bury South would vote for him again. His career in politics will be very short-lived indeed.

There have been increasing numbers of calls for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign following recent scandals. (Photo: Geoff Pugh/Shutterstock)

He is not, however, the only one to have dragged politics even further into the gutter. The so-called pork pie plotters, a group of 20 other Red Wall MPs who met to plan the downfall of Boris, have also shown their true, self-focused colours.

Having arrived in Westminster clutching Johnson’s coattails, they have suddenly realised that their tenancy might also be a short one and that they might soon have to face life without their salary, expenses, allowances, perks and kudos.

They now think that wringing the neck of the goose that laid their golden egg is the best way to survive.

The entire fallout from partygate has been an unedifying spectacle, but it has served a very useful purpose for voters.

They now know that wherever they put their cross on the ballot paper is entirely irrelevant because the candidate they are voting for will be acting in his or her own interests, not theirs. What an indictment of politics that is.


Derek Tucker is a former editor of the Press and Journal

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