Monday, November 26, 2007


BBC Shamefully Undervalues Importance of MEPs!

…Is what I’d normally say if an MEP’s defection got a just brief interview at a quarter to seven in the morning and no mention in the radio or online headlines. But a teeny little partisan bit of me is relieved that the defection of Sajjad Karim to the Tories isn’t bigger news.

It’s a shame to lose him; he’s a hard-working MEP, and seemed a relatively decent man. He didn’t sound hugely convincing talking about David Cameron’s “vision” on the Today Programme this morning, though. If Mr Karim knows what that is, he’s the only person in Britain that does. I suspect a more accurate interpretation of his reason for leaving, but one that’s no less a worry for the Liberal Democrats, is the recent result of the North-West European elections list ballot that seems to have triggered his decision.

Mr Karim – far from declaring his new-found Conservative vision – was an enthusiastic contender in this all-member Liberal Democrat election. I believe he was elected relatively narrowly last time, and that the number of seats in that region (as in most others) is being reduced. With Liberal Democrat members voting for him to be in the same place as he was last time, second, it looks like he thought his job was safer in the Tories. Not an ideological threat, then, but an electoral one is enough for us (and our forthcoming new Leader) to worry about.

I can console myself that the only time I’ve noticed Mr Karim talking about anything controversial rather than just plodding on doing a good job for his constituents (which he does), I thought he was depressingly illiberal, and said so. Not a patch on Evan Harris standing up for free speech to beat extremists on this morning’s Today Programme. But I won’t pretend ideological purity beats regret at his joining the Tories – and I suspect he may not find them as congenial a home.

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It wasn't just that he didn't sound "hugely convincing". I came into the interview some way through, and knew, when he was asked "why now?" that this was some self-centred and disappointed careerist taking a knee-jerk reaction dive into oblivion. We had one of the same in Camden recently - a nice chap called Havard Hughes who turned Tory immediately after failing to get selected as ppc for Holborn and St Pancras. A prattish sort of thing to do, displaying a complete lack of political judgement. both men will be marked as suspect for the rest of their lives - which are unlikely to be very political anyway. Unless the Conservative party managers are dumber than I take them for.
Sajjad is in fact a conviction Tory - brought up by a Tory councillor father in a Tory household. This is his second piece of opportunism. Though in this case he's "going home".
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