Attlee's grandson defects to the Conservatives

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The Independent Online
Earl Attlee (left), the grandson of Clement Attlee, the first post-war Labour Prime Minister, has switched allegiance from the cross-benches in the House of Lords (inhabited by independent peers) to become a Tory.

Lord Attlee's defection to the Conservatives, announced by the Government whips last night, was made more poignant as the news coincided with the 60th birthday celebrations for the left-wing magazine, Tribune, awash with old-style Labour oratory harking back to the glory days of the earl's grandfather.

Attlee's government between 1945 and 1951 helped to create a welfare society and granted independence to India. Previously he had served as deputy to Churchill during the Second World War. The present Lord Attlee, 40, succeeded his father, the second earl, to the title in 1991.

"I am joining the Conservative Party at this time because I believe that the Conservative government is right on the economy, right on Europe and that John Major is the only man who will defend the constitution and avoid the break-up of the United Kingdom," Lord Attlee said last night. "John Major is an excellent Prime Minister and I will do all I can to convince people to vote for the Conservatives at the general election."

A spokesman for the Government whips in the Lords said he now felt that "after careful consideration" he wished to cross the floor to support the Government.

However, he will not be able to give the Prime Minister the support he so desperately needs - votes on polling day - because, as a peer, he cannot vote.

The Conservatives gained another new recruit last night as Britain's first elected Monster Raving Loony Party councillor joined the Party.

Stuart Hughes made political history when he won a council seat as a Raving Loony in 1987, but has now decided to join John Major in the run- up to the general election. He is the Tory candidate for the Sidmouth Rural seat on Devon County Council.