The news story in the Haringey Independent quotes Brian:
Over the last few months it has become clearer and clearer that Labour has absolutely no vision of how to lift Haringey out of its current mess. It is for this reason I have taken the difficult decision to leave Labour and join the only party that has the ideas and ability to turn things around.Now, defections are a part of political life. In the eight years I have been on the Council, two of our councillors have joined Labour and one of theirs has joined the Conservatives (still no Conservatives elected in Haringey since 1998). These things happen for various reasons. But they can provoke very different responses.
Haringey Liberal Democrats are the only party with the drive and determination to provide local residents with the quality of service they deserve. I would urge anyone wavering in their support for Labour to join me in backing the Liberal Democrats which offers a positive change locally.
You will notice that when I talked about councillors leaving our group here and here, that I did not make negative personal comments about them or their previous contributions and did not opt for the easy thing route of pointing out all their flaws.
But at last night’s Full Council, Labour Leader Claire Kober launched a very personal and vitriolic attack on Brian – which actually surprised me, coming from her. Dignified and leader-like, it was not. It just shows that Labour are rattled… rightly so, with the local elections coming up in May.
And Cllr Kober is on very shaky ground when talking about defections, deselections and backroom deals while proclaiming that only Labour have democratic selection procedures.
Brian Haley is not the first Haringey Labour councillor to apply to join our group. There are at least five that I am aware of, and I am not on the local party executive that assesses membership applications and conducts interviews so the actual number is probably higher. Cllr Haley is, however, the first that the group has accepted.
And it is worth saying, contrary to what Cllr Kober seems to believe, that the selection process for our council candidates has not yet taken place. As always, it will be our local membership who choose our candidates – proper democracy, not dodgy selection meetings with a handful of stooges present.
Perhaps Haringey Labour are not aware that one of their councillors who tried to join us in the past was a certain Reg Rice. A Tottenham Labour councillor who found himself without a winnable seat in 2006, he walked into one of my Lib Dem colleague’s surgeries and essentially demanded a “safe Lib Dem seat”. That’s the sort of behaviour he might have been used to in the allegedly democratic Labour party, but it’s certainly not how we do things. He was told that he could not join our group.
Having failed in his bid to switch sides, Reg Rice went on to stand for Labour in Stroud Green ward, where he was soundly beaten by my Lib Dem colleagues Richard Wilson, Ed Butcher and Laura Edge. But he has been luckier in the Tottenham stitch-up this time, having been selected to stand for Labour in May’s elections.
I wonder if Reg mentioned to his local party that his commitment to Labour was not quite so rock solid as might be ideal?
I welcome Brian to our party and our council group, as I would anyone else also showing genuine commitment (new or old) to our plans for making life better for Haringey residents.