Last year I reviewed Alun Wyburn-Powell’s comprehensive study of defectors to and from the Liberal and then Liberal Democrat parties. It’s a fascinating read.
Based on his unique database of such switches, he’s now penned a six-point guide to spotting a defector:
- Defectors more often defect for better prospects (53%) than over policy differences (43%) and rarely over a personality clash (just 3% of defections).
- Men are more likely to defect than women, after allowing for the greater number of male MPs.
- Divorced MPs are more likely to defect.
- MPs with a military background, especially those who achieved the highest ranks, were most likely to defect. Former teachers, farmers and ministers of religion were the least likely.
- Those from a minority religion within their party were more likely to defect.
- Richer MPs are more likely to defect than poorer ones. When they died, on average a defector left an estate worth £42,457, compared to the loyalists’ average of £28,919.
Of course past correlation doesn’t necessarily imply future causation, but it’s certainly a better starting point than the wild speculation which usually passes for punditry about possible future defections. Though remember also the four key rules of defections.