Monday, 24 June 2013

Cllr Stamp's defection

Cllr Stamp's changed colours again
Recently taken a bit of a hiatus from politics and been concentrating on other more important things in my
life, namely my wife, kids, my history and fiction works and more importantly my beloved sleep.
However I am not shocked by the news in last week's paper that Independent group leader Councillor Andy stamp and Ward partner Pat Cooper have defected to Labour handing Gillingham North ward and Andy's "extensive" network of deliverers and supporters over to Vince Maple's resurgent Labour party taking them to 17 seats.

As the only Medway Liberal Democrat blogger and tweeter I feel moved that I should say a few words on the subject.

I was not an "Active" member of the Liberal Democrats when Andy Stamp left but I have since been made aware of a lot of the ins and outs as well as the damning media circus that was made about the then Cllrs Sutton and Ruparal who have both been cleared of any wrong doing. I also understand there are many raw wounds on both sides of the conflict that has led to a seething acrimony that continues to this day in some parts.

I have never had the opportunity to meet Cllr Stamp, I tried to speak to him at the 2011 Local election count but either because of having a lot on his mind or because he wasn't interested in the badged, gold tie wearing Libdem moving towards him, he stormed past me and blanked me. Also a few angry tweets were fired my way in response to a post I wrote about the split. The point is though, I hold no grudges and have tried to remain fairly impartial and do so to this day.

I am moved however to write that I agree with Medway Liberal Democrat Group Chair Tony Jeacock in his letter to the Medway Messenger on the subject;

Were Councillors Andy Stamp and Pat Cooper getting worried about standing as independent candidates at the next local elections?

Having left the Liberal Democrats and in their many leaflets then promoting the fact that they owed loyalty to no political party, they have now joined Labour. I can only assume that this is an attempt to improve their chances of election in 2015.

Can the public really have confidence in anyone whose principles swing with the tides?

A lot of committed Liberal Democrats were unhappy about going into Coalition with the Tories, particularly as their objectives are so different to ours.

However the need to stabilise the country won the day (and in the process managed to get many Liberal Democrat policies through parliament to improve the lot of working people); £600 a year less income tax for the low paid - and significant improvements to state pensions.

The latest move by these two simply shows that their own self-interest comes first.

The two sides of the debate are that Cllrs Stamp and Cooper, who find themselves voting against the Council (and with the Labour Group) most of the time want to form a more effective opposition and represent their constituents better and thus have joined the larger Labour group.

The more sceptical commentators, and sorry - I'm one of them - believe that the Councillors saw which way the wind was blowing and have moved to protect themselves. The Medway local election falls on the same day as the General election in 2015 and following the tough Coalition government and cuts to all manner of services there is going to be a swing towards Labour in both votes. On top of that is Vince Maple the Labour leader in Medway who is exceptionally ambitious to expand on his 17 seats (including the two Independents) and combat the Conservatives. I have no doubt that both Gillingham North and South were targets. Councillor Stamp had to be looking at the future and wondering whether his good work in the ward would be enough to guarantee his survival and has, in my opinion moved to save himself. This is after all the third party they have been a member of since 2010 (both defecting from the Libdems to the Independents after the general election.) and the record could be perceived to speak for itself.

A while ago I wrote of defections and Benedict Arnold.I know this is not an easy decision to make and I'm sure that Andy and Pat thought long and hard on this. I wish them all the luck within the Labour fold and I hope they have made the correct decision - not for themselves but for their residents.

1 comment:

  1. I have been of much the same view ever since reading the news of the defections. Gillingham North ward has become a potential 3-way marginal (depending on how the Lib Dem vote held up there) and that is likely to be nearer its norm in 2015 than it was in 2011.

    Now, though, there will be no Labour OR Ind choice, so it becomes an easier contest for those two, with only your party able to be serious competition.

    Yes, the move was primarily to protect their positions on the Council come 2015, whatever other (by comparison minor) reasons they might offer by way of explanation.