LETTER:Reg Prentice's Tory precedent

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The Independent Online
From Mr Roland Freeman

Sir: In 1977, a former Labour Cabinet Minister, Reg Prentice, defected from Labour and joined the Conservatives. He did not resign his seat and fight a by-election. Indeed, the Conservative Party found him a safe seat, Daventry, for the 1979 election.

I was on the shortlist and the agent told me afterwards that Central Office had put "heavy pressure" on the constituency to select Mr Prentice. Subsequently, he was made a minister in Mrs Thatcher's first administration. I do not recall any prominent Conservatives demanding that he should have fought a by-election in his Newham constituency as a matter of principle.

The vituperation heaped upon Emma Nicholson's head is obviously designed to frighten other moderate Tory MPs from abandoning ship, but for Conservative MPs to argue that resigning her seat is the "honourable" thing to do is simply humbug.

Yours faithfully,

Roland Freeman

Alderbury, Wiltshire

3 January