Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Lib Dem councillor defects to Labour

During last year's election campaign in Oxford, I met an extremely effective Lib Dem candidate, Shah Jahan Khan. From talking to him and campaigning against him in the ward he was standing in it was clear that he was hard-working, got things done and understood the local issues. Come election day, he managed to get elected in what had been previous been a safe ward for Labour.

Why mention this now? Well, after a year of working with the comedy incompetent Lib Dem group which has been running the council, he's decided to join Labour. In doing so, he becomes the fourth councillor to defect from the Lib Dems in the last year.

The Lib Dem leadership revealed that this defection came out of the blue, as did the previous three. Now possibly if one councillor defected without warning, it could be put down to careerism or whatever (I guess that is the spin that they are trying to put on it), but when four different people leave at different times, apparently without any of them feeling able to speak to the leader about what is concerning them, it's an excuse which loses some of its force.

It's always difficult when a group of people who have nothing in common politically and no shared vision for an area have to move from opposition to being responsible for taking difficult decisions. Several recently elected Lib Dem councillors were elected because they shared the values of voters who identified with Labour but were unhappy with Tony Blair's government. They've found that they had been conned and have been propping up an administration which was determined to run the city for the benefits of its wealthiest residents. Not surprisingly, able councillors like Shah Jahan Khan have decided that this is not what they stood for election to achieve, and have decided to join Labour instead.

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