Let me be the first to predict it

Last week there was speculation in the media that Gordon Brown would produce a defecting Conservative MP - John Bercow, perhaps. Since no such defection was, in fact, announced, we are left wondering why the media thought that it might. Did Labour's spin doctors believe that merely talking about the possibility of a Conservative MP defecting would damage David Cameron? Was this just a standard New Labour attempt to mislead the media. If so, the media, in the normal way, swallowed it whole. There seems to have been little in the way of blow back on Brown just yet.

But there is another possibility. What if the Conservatives spread the rumour? The media is now talking about defectors - about how much they can change the mood. A high profile defector can give the impression of momentum towards one party and away from the other. The strong Labour sympathies of the media meant that starting this debate during the Labour conference put it high on the media agenda. It would be very difficult for the same journalists to turn around and claim this week that defectors don't matter. So, perhaps, Cameron was laying the groundwork to announce a Labour defector to the Conservatives.

Frank Field, perhaps? Gisela Stuart? Perhaps someone lower profile, outside Parliament. But in any case, if this is the plan, it has been cleverly executed.

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