Allies of Ed Miliband are letting it be known that some MPs are now committed to jumping ship from the Mili-D campaign when it comes to the final voting in the leadership contest. The theory is that they have been “inspired” to change their minds by the weekend poll that put the younger brother slightly ahead. And ambitious MPs will want to be in the right camp when the result comes in.
But it’s not clear how much this is just gamesmanship. After all, most Labour MPs have already committed one way or another in public. Who wants to emerge as a turncoat when the final list comes through (on the Wednesday after the September 25 result)?
How many would want people to know that their advancement within the party has been thanks to a willingness to abandon ship at the last minute? Not so many I’d wager. And what if – horror of horrors – they get it wrong and jump from the winner to the loser?
David Willetts, the BIS minister, is the poster boy for this kind of decision. Back in the days of the last Tory leadership contest, “Two Brains” – who had originally stood as a candidate himself – subsequently threw his weight behind David Davis, who had the “Big Mo” at that stage in the contest.
The decision raised eyebrows given the philosophical gap between the moderate Willetts and the right-wing Davis. As the contest neared its end, Willetts then decided to back David Cameron as the latter started to pick up steam – prompting allegations of flakiness.
As Nick Watt of the Guardian reported at the time:
“Oh dear poor David got caught on the Berlin Wall – you got his arms and I got his legs,” Davis is said to have joked to Cameron.