I know that Iain Dale wanted to play down the significance of another defection to UKIP by a vaguely-prominent Tory, but he could at least get the chap's name right and perhaps be a little less London-centric. And there was I thinking that bloggers might be a little different. [Iain has now corrected that mistake]
Alan, not Andrew, Blumenthal has jumped ship to Farage's merry band of men.
Alan/Andrew isn't quite the nonentity that Iain claims. He is a scion of a prominent local Tory family - numbering two Lord Mayors amongst his relatives, was thoroughly thrashed by Richard Burden in Northfield in 1997 and spent a number of years as a leading Tory councillor - during which he tried to get NWA to change their set during a 1990 performance (something about 'Fuck tha Police' appears to have raised his hackles). That's probably the only time I'll ever namecheck that group on this blog and I never thought I would.
Granted, Alan/Andrew isn't what you would call high profile - he's tried and failed to get back on to the council in recent years - but there is still some local news value in this story in a city where David Cameron has been particularly interested in courting the local Tory vote. Don't forget that not so long ago, Birmingham had a raft of Tory MPs, but the parliamentary vote has been in freefall for over a decade.
UKIP could be a problem for Cameron. When Blair started to lead the Labour Party to the centre ground, there were some naysayers, but they had to stick with the party, because there was nowhere else to go - the SWP being capable of fighting like cats in a sack over the minutiae of left-wing politics, but offering nothing like a cohesive platform or, more importantly, political presence. Respect has arisen out of an unholy alliance between the extreme left and certain Muslim groups, who have put aside their differences in the name of opposing Blair. What happens to the Gorgeous George Appreciation Society when Blair finally goes and when British troops complete their withdrawal from Iraq is going to be interesting. Will the cracks in that relationship finally prove too much?
While Cameron is trying to drag the Tories to the middle ground, he is aware that the party supporters have a choice. While Nigel Farage has been to the Ian Paisley school of public speaking - even on the radio, his voice seems to be turned up to 11 - he does have some political force behind him in his motley crew of MEPs and councillors. There is a degree of legitimacy in UKIP absent from the SWP and similar groups and a lot less stigma attached to those who change allegiance.
Cameron is risking his hopes on a belief that Tory supporters have had so much of Labour that they will back anything with a blue rosette without looking too deeply at whatever policies he agrees to show us. Blair knew that Labour supporters had no credible alternative, but that doesn't look to be the case for the Tories. Cameron's success will hinge upon him capturing great chunks of the swing vote without losing too many of the old guard traditionalists to apathy or UKIP.