Ex-MP ‘puzzled’ as Lib-Dem pair defect to Labour party
FORMER Southport MP John Pugh says he is “puzzled” by the decision by Southport Liberal Democrat councillors Marianne and Bill Welsh to defect to Labour.
The couple, who represent Norwood Ward on Sefton Council, joined Southport Lib Dems after moving to the area in 2009, but left because they felt it had drifted further to the right and they were also increasingly unhappy with the way the local party was being run.
Bill Welsh said: “We found the Lib Dems’ 2017 manifesto uninspiring and disagreed with a number of its policies, particularly their regressive income tax stance.
“By contrast, we were extremely impressed with the Labour manifesto and admired Jeremy Corbyn’s performance in what was a strong Labour campaign.”
They are the second and third Labour councillors to represent Southport on Sefton Council, after Tony Crabtree, who has since retired, defected from the Conservatives in 2014.
Former Southport MP John Pugh said: “Disappointed, of course, that after so many Liberal Democrats, including Ronnie Fearn and myself, have worked hard to get them elected, that they have chosen to defect.
“The Lib Dem Council Group was very supportive, close and sympathetic during Cllr Marianne Welsh’s recent and happily successful battle against cancer, but was never told of these seemingly important policy differences they cite.
“We still remain puzzled as to the Welshs’ exact motivation.
“Certainly, their claim that they found Liberal Democrat income tax proposals ‘regressive’ makes absolutely no sense to anyone who understands what income tax is or ‘regressive’ means.”
Southport Conservatives were also critical of the double defection.
Cllr Harry Bliss said: “This does not bode well for the residents of Southport.
“Sefton Council’s decisions show a disregard for Southport. For example, the council has invested tens of millions of pounds, reputedly £32m, in purchasing a shopping centre in Bootle, while the council is unwilling to invest in resurfacing the red Tarmac on Lord Street.
Cllr Marianne Welsh – defected from the Lib Dems to the Sefton council Labour group street is resurfaced about every 15 years and the Conservative councillors believe the extra cost of red Tarmac over that time represents excellent value for a town centre in need of investment and support. The council’s decision shows a disregard for Southport and a total lack of understanding of the town’s needs.
“This cannot be blamed on Government cuts. It is a decision made by a remote and out-of-touch council run out of Bootle, for Bootle.
“The last defector to Labour was a Conservative councillor who then followed the Labour Group’s decisions, including the slashing of funds to Southport’s Botanic Gardens, which is in the same ward he lives in.
“Residents be warned expect more of the same from Labour and these defectors.”
Labour leader of Sefton Council, Cllr Ian Maher, said: “Marianne and Bill are a welcome addition to the Labour group of councillors on Sefton Council and hopefully we will have even more Labour colleagues from Southport joining us after the forthcoming May election.”
Cllr Bill Welsh – we found the Lib Dems’ 2017 manifesto uninspiring
Puzzled – former Southport Lib Dem MP John Pugh