Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. /
20 September 2010

The Lib Dem MP most likely to defect to Labour

Why Mike Hancock is the man to watch.

By George Eaton

Forget Charles Kennedy: if you’re looking for a potential Lib Dem defector, Mike Hancock is your man. In a letter to Nick Clegg, Hancock has attacked “the dictatorship” of ministers over the party and hit out at the coalition’s welfare cuts.

He’s followed this up with a BBC interview, in which he warns that he’s “straining at the straps” in his relationship with the party and hints that defeat in the AV referendum could provide the tipping point.

“I will make a determined effort to win that vote but if we lose, and there’s little or no chance of repeating it, then I will be very, very concerned about where the coalition goes from there,” Hancock said. As a former Labour and SDP man, he wouldn’t have too much trouble crossing the floor.

But don’t expect to see him speaking out against free schools in the debate this morning — he hasn’t even turned up at conference this year. You get the feeling he won’t be there next year either.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

UPDATE: In the letter, Hancock suggests that he’s unlikely to defect, pointing out: “If Dennis Skinner can remain a member of Labour throughout the past 20 years of New Labour, I as a founding member of the SDP with over 25 years’ membership of the Lib Dems can certainly remain a member of the Lib Dems.” But he doesn’t completely rule it out.