Hastings should do battle again for his seat

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The last thing any of us wants right now is another election.

But that is exactly what the people of Baffins ward in Portsmouth should be facing. It’s the least they deserve.

A year ago they voted for Steve Hastings to represent them on the city council.

Although he had been a member of the Conservative Party for three decades, he stood in that election for Ukip.

And for the past 12 months that is who he has represented in the council chamber.

But three days after the general election in which David Cameron won a majority for the Tories, Councillor Hastings decided to jump ship and return to the Conservative fold, satisfied the prime minister would now hold a referendum on whether we remain in or come out of the European Union.

All he had to do was sign a few papers, tell his one-time Ukip colleagues and, bingo, he had crossed the floor of that chamber.

Suddenly those people of Baffins who voted him into office on a Ukip ticket are disenfranchised.

For many years this paper has argued that this is wrong – both at local level and, indeed, in the House of Commons.

Of course, the honourable thing for Cllr Hastings to have done would have been to resign his seat, stand as a Tory in the ensuing by-election and win a new mandate.

But, of course, the likelihood of him winning again might now be slim. There is always an immediate backlash against parties which win general elections.

Over the years we have been angered by the ease with which councillors can swap sides at the drop of a hat, regardless of party.

Our view remains the same today.

Perhaps Cllr Hastings’s view has not.

For his decision to cross the floor came while his party was leaderless.

If he had waited 24 hours he would have discovered that Nigel Farage would indeed continue as the face of Ukip and leader of that party.

The old idiom ‘marry in haste, repent at leisure’ springs to mind.

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