Everyone remembers Winston Churchill’s ‘ratting’ and ‘re-ratting’ between the Conservative Party and the Liberals. But, Churchill was not the most prolific defector.
This title goes to Edgar Granville, who had five changes of party label to his name. He was first elected to the House of Commons for Eye in Suffolk as a Liberal in 1929. In 1931 he became a Liberal National, but left to sit as an independent during the war, before returning to the Liberals just before the 1945 election. After losing his seat in the Liberals’ worst general election performance in 1951, he joined the Labour Party. Granville was never re-elected as an MP, but he was created a Labour peer. However, his allegiance to the Labour Party did not last and he ended his days as a cross-bencher – and he had a lot of days. He lived to be 100 years old, dying just two days after his centenary.
Edgar Granville was thus the most prolific defector and the longest lived. According to my research, defection was, on average, a career-enhancing move, but not much of a life-enhancing measure. Defectors on average survived to the age of 74, just one year longer than party loyalists.