Labour’s coun­cil gains with Lib Dem de­fec­tors

Southport Visiter - - Front Page - BY AN­DREW BROWN an­drew.brownNW@trin­i­tymir­ @visan­drew­brown

LABOUR has sen­sa­tion­ally gained two Sefton coun­cil­lors in South­port, be­fore it has even se­lected can­di­dates for next May’s lo­cal elec­tions.

Lo­cal coun­cil­lors Bill and Mar­i­anne Welsh, who re­cently left the Lib­eral Democrats to go in­de­pen­dent, have now crossed the floor af­ter weeks of dis­cus­sion with the coun­cil’s Labour group.

They are the sec­ond and third Labour coun­cil­lors to rep­re­sent South­port on Sefton Coun­cil, af­ter Tony Crab­tree de­fected from the Con­ser­va­tives in 2014.

The hus­band and wife team say they are re­turn­ing to their nat­u­ral po­lit­i­cal roots as pre­vi­ously they were Labour Party mem­bers but quit in protest at Tony Blair’s Iraq War de­ci­sion.

The cou­ple, who both rep­re­sent Nor­wood Ward, joined South­port Lib Dems af­ter mov­ing to the town in 2009 but left last month be­cause they felt the party had drifted fur­ther to the right and they were in­creas­ingly un­happy with the way the lo­cal party was be­ing run.

Mr 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 de­cided they wanted to re­join the Labour Party, and their ap­pli­ca­tion was re­cently ac­cepted by South­port Labour. The ad­di­tions mean the lo­cal party is now just a few mem­bers away from the 1,000 mark.

South­port Labour Party sec­re­tary Steve Jowett said: “We’ve gone from strength to strength in the last few years. It’s a re­mark­able achieve­ment and a vi­brant, en­er­getic group de­ter­mined to see Labour win here.

“I’m sure all of Bill and Mar­i­anne’s ex­pe­ri­ence will only add to that.”

The news is the lat­est evi- dence of a surge in sup­port in the town for Labour, which in June came sec­ond in a Gen­eral Elec­tion here for the first time since 1966 – when John Prescott was the can­di­date.

Labour’s share of the vote in South­port has risen from 4,116 (9.4%) in 2010 to 8,468 (19.2%) in 2015 to 15,627 (32.6%) in June when South­port Labour Par­lia­men­tary can­di­date, Liz Sav­age, recorded the party’s high­est ever vote share.

But de­spite the in­crease this is the first time Labour has had any coun­cil­lors in South­port.

South­port has been de­clared a key mar­ginal seat by Mr Cor­byn, who held a huge rally on its beach­front this month.

Mrs Welsh said they were de­lighted to be re­turn­ing to the Labour fold, adding: “We will do all we can to en­sure more Labour coun­cil­lors are elected in South­port and be­lieve it’s vi­tal for the town that it re­turns a Labour MP at the next Gen­eral Elec­tion.

“Only a Labour gov­ern­ment will act to re­bal­ance the econ­omy away from the over­heated South East in or­der to help North­ern towns like South­port.”

Sefton Coun­cil Labour leader 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.”

Bill Welsh, fifth from left, and Mar­i­anne Welsh, fifth from right, with South­port Labour’s can­vass­ing team

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.