A very curious thing happened on Saturday morning. I received a series of Tweets that appeared to say that Dan Hannan was “60/40 on to jump ship” and to leave the Conservative Party and join UKIP. I clicked on the site @Daniel_Hannan and found a very credible-looking series of Tweets, larded liberally (perhaps too liberally, with hind-sight) with the kind of Latin tags of which Dan is fond.
I must admit that at first glance I took them as genuine. I tried to contact Dan by phone, text and e-mail, but without success. And doubts soon arose. ConHome was certainly not following the story — I can only guess that Tim Montgomerie saw through it straight away, and decided not to touch it. And folk were soon pointing out that Dan’s real Twitter account is @DanHannanMEP. His last (genuine) entry is April 4th, where he says he’s away for the Easter weekend and out of Wi-Fi contact.
I must say I had been fairly astonished at the idea that Dan would ruminate publicly about crossing the floor. The normal thing is to keep it under wraps until the big announcement. But Dan often takes an imaginative and unconventional approach. What if, I wondered, he had already decided to jump ship, but was using the device of a Twitter consultation to help to bring his followers with him? A little Machiavellian, perhaps, but not inconceivable.
Of course since I crossed the floor myself, people are constantly asking me if Dan will follow, since his views on Europe seem to be exactly the same as mine. My only answer — the simple truth — is that I have no reason to believe so, but that you’d better ask him.
But now we have to recognise that this was a scam. A fraud. An impostor. So the question arises, who would do such a thing? Could it be an attempt to discredit Dan? Or to push him towards a move? Very unlikely, and if it was, it was inept, since the scam was uncovered in short order. Dan only needs to point out that it was nothing to do with him. Could it have been an attempt to embarrass UKIP, by getting the Party all fired up about a high-profile defector? Doubtful. Not much impact there.
Could it have been someone close to Dan who was flying a kite with a toe-in-the-water exercise to gauge reaction to a possible move, while leaving the suggestion utterly deniable? Perhaps too Machiavellian for words.
So I don’t know the answer. Suggestions please. Maybe at the end of the day it was just a prankster having a bit of fun