A professor leaves Oxford to take up a job at Cambridge and raises the average intelligence of the staff at both institutions. This seems like a paradox but actually makes perfect sense. Anyone foolish enough to leave Oxford for Cambridge is no loss to the superior university. However, Cambridge would doubtless benefit from a staff member who spent time at Oxford.
I feel something similar about the prospect of Jeremy Browne leaving the Lib Dems for the Tories. A number of people seem to be considering the idea: Nick Boles has publicly floated the idea, Grant Shapps has approached Browne and many Lib Dems mutter about the prospect.
Brownes response to those Lib Dems is that they are sending a “very bad message” to voters. “If you believe that the country should live within its means, people should be encouraged to work [and] we should improve rigour in education, that doesn’t make you a Conservative but a reform-minded Liberal. We can’t get into a position where people misunderstood that.” His arguments with the straw man faction of the Liberal Democrats aside, Browne is clearly well outside the mainstream of the party. As Naomi Smith explains at the Huffington Post his views are at odds with the grassroots of the party. Furthermore, as James Graham notes his self-image as a true liberal is rather undermined by it being “an open secret that the main reason he was sacked from the home office was because he was so comfortable with the Tories’ anti-immigration and increasingly authoritarian policies.”
However, were Browne to join the Tories he would be one of their more moderate and progressive MPs. He would take a less deranged than average position on Europe and immigration, is a supporter of equal marriage and pro-choice.
So the impact of Jeremy Browne going from a Lib Dem to a Tory would be that both parties would become more liberal. So ironically if Jeremy Browne wants to be a true liberal, the best way for him to do it, would be to go from a more to a less liberal party.