There is a lot of talk in the press about defectors to UKIP, they are all at it. Let’s take a look at the Mirror’s analysis in an article “These MPs are Labour but they might defect to Ukip too” as it gives a focus on possible Labour MPs as well as Tories. The Mirror picks on eight of them to analyse, and here they are, together with some key facts on them:

MP

Party Seat Bookies’  Odds

Philip Hollobone

Conservative Kettering

5/2

Peter Bone

Conservative Wellingborough

4/1

John Baron

Conservative Basildon and Billericay

4/1

Mark Pritchard

Conservative The Wrekin

4/1

Henry Smith

Conservative Crawley

4/1

Austin Mitchell

Labour Great Grimsby

5/1

George Eustice Conservative Camborne and Redruth

6/1

Simon Danczuk

Labour Rochdale 14/1

14/1

Going through the list, Philip Hollobone has for some years has been the most rebellious Tory MP and in some ways is to the right of UKIP. And he introduced Mark Reckless to the House of Commons on Friday alongside Douglas Carswell.

Nearby Peter Bone in Wellingborough is notoriously one of the Conservatives’ most rebellious MPs.

John Baron in Essex is a serial rebel who’s been highly critical of the PM’s foreign policy, but has oft professed his loyalty to the Tories, but does that mean anything?

Up in the English-Welsh border country, Mark Pritchard’s motto is “country first, party second and career last“. Does any more need to be said?

(Editor’s Note 4 December: After his appearance on Sunday Politics on 30 Nov where he vociferously backed the Conservative case on EU, and this article on possible corruption, and now his arrest on suspicion of rape, we should say “No thank you” to this man now.)

South of London, Henry Smith is another denier but it’s been recently reported that he has approached UKIP and has been in talks with Matt Richardson, UKIP’s legal officer.

Veteran Labour MP Austin Mitchell, who recently affirmed he would re-contest his seat in 2015, despite being 80, is firmly eurosceptic and has said that UKIP is not the “Conservative Party in exile” and could be a home for Labour MPs.

George Eustice of Camborne and Redruth has been keeping his head down but in 1999 he was UKIP’s unsuccessful south-west candidate at the EU elections.

The least likely (according to the bookies) is Labour MP Simon Danczuk of Rochdale, who has said in response to Emily Thornberry’s tweet this week “the Labour Party has been hijacked by the North London liberal elite“. Of course, he has just looked on while UKIP came incredibly close to taking the next-door Heywood and Middleton constituency.

However, it’s all very well looking at intentions, but what would be their realistic chances of re-election as a UKIP MP in 2015, presuming they can avoid a by-election through the timing of their defection? Perhaps I can help them evaluate that with the predictions I’ve done based on the Euro 2014 results. In this work, I took account of what after-election polls had said about voters going back to their ‘home’ parties. Taking a mean of three polls shows 18% would go back to the Tories, 9% to Labour and 1% to the Liberal Democrats. On the basis of that, here’s the prediction in votes for those eight constituencies (ignoring Greens and Lib Dems who’d be 4th and 5th in all of them):

MP

Seat Con Lab UKIP

Result 1st, 2nd

Austin Mitchell

Great Grimsby 11288 10246 12369 UKIP, Con

John Baron

Basildon & Billericay 14567 9601 15413

UKIP, Con

Mark Pritchard

The Wrekin 15587 12563 13727

Con, UKIP

George Eustice Camborne & Redruth 15116 6707 13035

Con, UKIP

Henry Smith

Crawley 17676 17684 14522 Lab, Con

Peter Bone

Wellingborough 20607 12270 15820

Con, UKIP

Philip Hollobone Kettering 18588 11286 13888

Con, UKIP

Simon Danczuk Rochdale 11448 21954 13131

Lab, UKIP

So, looking at that, I have to say to Austin Mitchell and John Baron: “What are you waiting for?”

The others are going to have to rely on bringing across some personal support based on the electorate’s view of their performance to date. In Clacton, one poll showed that while 60% of voters were voting for Douglas Carswell and UKIP on UKIP’s policies, around 37% were voting for him, the man. Against that yardstick, how much voter loyalty has each of them to bring with them from their old party to UKIP?

The list is ordered by increasing numbers of swinging votes through personal voter loyalty, ranging from 6% for Mark Pritchard up to 12.6% for Philip Hollobone, with Simon Danczuk as a rank outsider needing a very high popularity level to drag over 39% of those who would have voted Labour. One factor will be how long they’ve been MPs for, a mixture of being first elected in 2005 and 2010. On the basis of 2005-electees having a greater chance in the personal popularity polls, that gives Mark Pritchard, Peter Bone and Philip Hollobone the edge.

So, to the three of them I’ll say: “If you think you know your electorate, come on over, you’ve got a good chance.”

I’d also add in George Eustice to my favourites list by saying to him: “You were a member once.   UKIP are going to challenge you anyway in 2015, so why not come back to us?”

And to Simon Danczuk, I’ll say: “Watch out!  The same team that scared Labour in Heywood and Middleton is coming your way too.”

 

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