“To betray”, noted Kim Philby “you first have to belong”.
His excuse was that he never did; making it easy to sell out his country and friends. He died in obscurity; with Mother Russia never willing to clasp a traitor to her bosom.
Such is the fate of those who sell out.
By Philby’s standard, Luke Bozier’s defection to the Conservatives today is small beer.
Who’s Luke Bozier the cry goes up? Exactly. Outside of the ever-more suffocating Westminster bubble no-one has heard of him. Nor should they have.
A decade ago, when Labour was in its ascendancy, we had MPs switching sides: Alan Howarth, Shaun Woodward, Peter Temple-Morris. These were each significant players in the Conservative Party.
“Labour’s former e-comms manager joins Cameron” is thin gruel in comparison. And party staffers are not in fact obliged to be members of the party only ‘sympathisers’. Was Luke even a member, one wonders?
I don’t mean that to sound sneery. Well not too much. Let’s be clear, Luke deserves a boot up his jacksy; but as a blogger he always passed the first test of anyone commenting on politics: he had an opinion.
Not ones I often agreed with – or frankly recognised as particularly Labourish – but sometimes thought provoking stuff nonetheless. I respect him for that at least.
But the reality of politics – the depressing truth – is that it is full of fair-weather friends – ideologically-barren arrivistes who migrate towards power. Anyone’s power. They never really belong, so, on Philby’s terms, they must think themselves incapable of betrayal.
The true significance of the ripple caused by Bozier’s flouncing off is its very insignificance. This is not 1981. There is no SDP-style schism in the offing.
If Luke thinks the Tory party is a home for those seeking to make this a better world, then he is deluded. If he simply sees politics as a game of chance for the uber-ambitious, then joining the governing party is, I guess, an obvious move. Cynical, but obvious. But real Labour people don’t see politics that way.
We hold on to our values, willing to stand our ground and state our case. But we also recognise ours is an eternal battle between what we want to do and what we need to do to become a party of power. Finding the right intersection between those two competing demands is what we are currently working out as a party.
And we will. What you don’t do is cut and run when you don’t get it all your own way.
Luke, adios. Like Philby you will find your celebrity is fleeting and your new buddies will never trust you. You are a useful idiot for a day.
Never mind. We have 65,000 new recruits to replace you.