I have just spent an hour or two at the House of Commons. A few pointers on Quentin Davies...

Davies was still voting with the Party last night at 5.48pm last night AGAINST Gordon Brown's Finance Bill. Rather strange behaviour for a man who has just written a letter indicating he thinks Gordon Brown is Britain's saviour.

His last speech in Parliament (last week's European debate) was in retrospect quite cryptic:

Mr. Quentin Davies (Grantham and Stamford) (Con): We all know people who have
identity crises of one kind or another. They do not really know what sort of
people they want to be, what their values are, or what sort of life they want to
lead. Such people are among our friends and relations.

Indeed. Most of the Tory MPs I spoke to spoke more in sorrew than anger. No one felt there was much mileage in this and that Davies would feel very uncomfortable on the Labour benches. He has the air of a grandee and is quite right wing on some social issues. There was also a feeling that he hasn't been 'handled' very well. Quentin Davies always like to feel at the centre of things. Although he wasn't part of the Davis campaign team he was a regular provider of information and was 'stroked' to make him feel part of it. Many a time I can remember being in DD's office and Mr Davies's head would pop round the door wanting a minute with David. Unfortunately under the Cameron regime he seems to have been ignored an felt unloved. If he wasn't on the whips' list of potential defectors he ought to have been, and handled accordingly.

A lobby journalist also told me an interesting tale. When he was a young reporter in the 1990s he encountered Quentin Davies in the lobby. He appraoched him for a quote. Davies looked him up and down and asked if here a full member of the lobby. "No, I'm not," replied the journalist. "I thought not," said Davies as he walked off in disdain. People remember things like that.

I have just received the press release from Simon Chapman, chairman of Grantham & Stamford Conservatives...

I heard this news from Quentin Davies with enormous surprise and disappointment. He has let down his constituents and his local party members very badly, and displayed great ill-judgement. David Cameron has launched the most substantial and heavyweight policy review that the Conservative Party has had for generations. As Quentin Davies well knows, that is due to report this summer. Under David Cameron’s leadership the Conservative Party will show that it alone can solve the deep-seated challenges facing Britain in the 21st century, so many of which have been directly caused by the control freakery and incompetence of Gordon Brown. I have no doubt that under David’s leadership the Party will go on to win the next election whenever it is called.

I am astonished to hear about Quentin Davies’s new-found admiration for Gordon Brown, which has not been at all evident before this afternoon. If he is as straightforward and devoted to his constituents as he protests, no doubt he will resign and fight a by-election, so that that the people can decide. Until then, Quentin will have the same lack of democratic mandate that his new leader does.”

Well I think Mr Chapman can whistle for a by-election.

UPDATE: And no mention of Mr Davies on the Labour Party website. Stranger and stranger, said Alice.

UPDATE 5.47: The first anyone knew of this defection came at 2.30 when various political editors were summoned to Gordon Brown's office. They were told they would be getting an interview but Brown's people would not be drawn on the subject. All the pol eds thought they would be interviewing the Great Clunking Fist himself. It wasn't until they turned up at Brown's office (Brown was off in a meeting with Wee Dougie Alexander) that they were told what was going on.

UPDATE 6.11: Ben Brogan has this...

His defection has been in the works for a couple of months, and was the result of a series of one-to-one conversations with Mr Brown. The two had bumped into each other in the Commons one day, and Mr Davies had mentioned a book he had read that might interest the Chancellor, who promptly invited him round for a chat. He is now full of praise for Mr Brown's intellect and his integrity. But his key points are these: "I haven't done any deals at all, this is entirely a matter of conviction. I don't want to be in the new government. I'm joining as a backbencher. As for the Lords, I voted for a 100 per cent elected upper house and never wanted to be outside the Commons. I will seek re-election, but not in my constituency."

What a coward. He didn't even have the guts to tell David Cameron in person. Not someone you'd want to go into the jungle with.