Iain Dale is right that the Tories were stupid to start saying that they were trying to attract defectors. But I find his writing rather like a self-justifying fantasist where he writes:
Oaten came very close to defecting to the Conservatives in the autumn of 2005.
As Lib Dem home affairs spokesman he was frustrated by the party's opposition to his tougher approach on crime, and, in particular, terrorism: but the Tories were choosing a leader and Oaten's bargaining position was weak, so he stayed put.
David Cameron nearly claimed his first scalp two months into his leadership.
"Nearly claimed his first scalp"...what utter drivel. It's like saying someone is "nearly pregnant".
But anyway, let us take this rubbish in the Torygraph at face value. What if Mark Oaten had defected to the Tories in Autumn 2005? One suspects that membership of the Conservatives would not have immunised him from exposure by the News of the World. Indeed, by being a defector he would have had the same profile as when he ran for the LibDem leadership. So we can safely assume that he would still have been spread all over the NoTW, with some acts not described because they were too horrific for the paper's readership.
So Cameron gets his first high-profile defector in, say, November 2005 and that defector defecates, almost literally, on Cameron's doorstep in January 2006.
That would have been a bit of a faux pas, wouldn't it?