Conservative peer defects to take seat on Labour benches

ANOTHER LEADING Conservative crosses the floor of Parliament to join Tony Blair's Labour Party today.

Lord Hacking, who has been a Tory hereditary peer since 1971, says in a letter to The Independent today that his move has been prompted by changes in Conservative and Labour policies on penal affairs and Europe.

"The choice is party or policy," Lord Hacking, 60, says in a moving letter that will strike a chord with many Conservatives. "Difficult though it is, I believe the only honest choice is one of policy."

With the Prime Minister opening the final summit of his European presidency in Cardiff today, the latest Tory scalp will come as welcome evidence of Labour's positive attitude towards the European Union - and William Hague's steady drift into Euro-scepticism.

Lord Hacking, a partner in the London law firm Sonnenscheins, says that since the Tories lost office last year, they have been turning away from established policy towards the EU.

"It was my party who negotiated our entry into the EEC. It was my party who negotiated and signed the Single European Act in which we expressly agreed the convergence policies for bringing into being the single currency. It was my party who negotiated and signed the Maastricht treaty in which we expressly agreed the establishment of economic and monetary union, including the single currency ..."

Now, he says, Mr Hague talks of a single currency as "the economic equivalent of a burning building with no exits". Far from seeking to be at the heart of Europe, he adds, "we are now seeking to be apart from it".

Lord Hacking has similar disquiet about the direction of Tory policy on law and order. "Much has changed in the Conservative Party - as it has in the Labour Party - during my adult life," he says. "Recent changes in my party have not been to the good. At the end of its period of office, just over a year ago, we had a Conservative government which was standing on its head its own established penal policy. Claims by the then Home Secretary that `prison works' and the introduction of measures which imposed mandatory sentencing on the judiciary were populist and unworthy."

Examining the dilemma faced by all politicians in such circumstances, Lord Hacking says he can either stay with the Tories and try to work for a restoration of old commitments, or join Labour, already committed to a strong but compassionate penal policy and a determination to make the EU work from within.

"On Monday," he says, "I will be `crossing over' the floor of the Chamber of the House of Lords from the Conservative benches to the Labour benches."

As with all those who have made the same move in recent years, Lord Hacking says he leaves in sorrow. Having belonged to the Conservative Party for the past 40 years, he will be leaving friends behind. "I realise I will be causing upset," he says. But the growing frequency of the act measures the change in both parties.

Letters, Review, page 2

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
people
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Administrator

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: International Trade Advisors - Hertfordshire or Essex

£30000 - £35379 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company is based in Welwyn ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Controller - Response Centre

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Resource and Recruitment Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Resource and Recruitment Manage...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn