Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Defection Watch: And More...

In addition to the two defections picked up today in Barking and Dagenham, a further two have also been reported - it's almost as if there's an election coming up!

Cllr Jayne Wilkinson
In Sandwell, the Green Party have picked up their first ever councillor with an ex-Labour member signing up.  Tividale Cllr Jayne Wilkinson left the Labour Party in February 2013, saying that she felt bullied into not speaking out on issues that mattered to her.  She had been sitting since then as an "Independent Ratepayer" councillor, and reportedly previously expressed that she had no interest in standing again for election, though her new found Green-ness just prior to her seat coming up for election suggests that she may now be intending to stand again.

Sandwell is another council where opposition to Labour has now all but evaporated, with them winning every single seat in the last round of elections.  Tividale ward itself was a straight Labour-Conservative fight with Labour winning overwhelmingly with 80.8% of the vote.  It has not always been safely Labour though, and Tividale elected BNP councillors in the past - Cllr Wilkinson having gained her seat off of the last such BNP member.

The Greens have a limited presence in Sandwell, although their seat on Dudley council isn't geographically too far from Tividale, but local activists will presumably be focused on trying to gain a second seat there.  Overall, Wilkinson's chances to hold her seat look slim, assuming she does stand again at all.

New council composition -
Labour - 67
Conservative - 3
Independents - 1 (-1)
Green - 1 (+1)

Cllr Tony Woodcock
The other reported defection today comes from Poole, where Parkstone Cllr Tony Woodcock has switched from the Conservatives to UKIP.  He accused the Conservative Party of having "modernised and detoxified itself out of existence", saying that UKIP now represented the policies he believed in.  Particularly, he seemed to be opposed to a windfarm development that had been supported by the council.

Poole Borough Council (confusingly named, as it has actually been a unitary authority since 1997) has been in no overall control since the last elections, with a small localist party called Poole People holding the balance of power between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives.  UKIP had a few candidates here in 2011, but most had a pretty limited impact coming last or close to last in each contest they fought.  UKIP's lone Dorset County Council seat lies right on the outskirts of the town though, suggesting there is maybe some potential for them here since their recent growth in support.

Woodcock himself has said he has no intention of standing down, and can be presumed to be planning to stand again in the next all-out elections in 2015.  Parkstone ward is fairly marginal, voting 35.6% Conservative in 2011 (however, the figures are distorted as only the Conservatives fielded a full slate of three candidates, every other party only fielded one, so non-Conservative voters would have been splitting their votes across three parties' totals).  The UKIP candidate in that election managed 10.4% (same proviso applying), coming last.

The council remains in no overall control, with the Poole People group still holding the balance of power.

New council composition -
Conservative - 20 (-1)
Liberal Democrats - 18
Poole People - 3
UKIP - 1 (+1)

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