It is a great shame that Manchester is no longer a Tory-free zone. But hey, it’s only because a Lib Dem jumped ship and this sort of thing happens.
What I do find strange is that people appear to be genuinely engaging in the ‘can he keep his seat’ debate; he’s a massive personal vote, so he says. But he would say that and he needs to take sixty per cent of the Lib Dem vote with him to hold the seat, as the Tories managed an exceptionally poor fourth place in Whalley Range last time. The Lib Dem vote was up a massive 42 per cent on 2006, but it’s a huge leap to assume this is Faraz Bhatti’s personal vote… and it still isn’t enough.
Faraz Bhatti may well have a significant personal vote, but he’ll also have benefitted from anti-war sentiment and the Lib Dem’s formidable local campaign team. Those supporters won’t travel. With just 206 votes, it’s hard to believe there are many Tory activists in Whalley Range itself, so he’ll depend on outsiders.
Most likely Faraz Bhatti has his eye on a parliamentary career, possibly in Europe with fellow defector, Sajjad Karim. An ethnic minority councillor for an inner city ward provides him with a profile that will immediately excite Cameron-style Conservatives and the next general election will come before he loses his council seat in 2011. But won’t the winnable seats have been snapped up by now?