Watford’s last Conservative Councillor moves to Liberal Democrats because of Conservatives’ “right wing drift”

From the Watford Observer:

Watford’s Conservative party has been extinguished at borough level after the last Tory councillor has defected to the ruling Liberal Democrat group.

Steve Johnson, who had been the leader of the Conservatives onWatford Borough Council until recently, announced this morning he was crossing the floor due to the national Tory party’s “right wing drift”.

In a statement the Leggatts representative said: “I have become increasingly disappointed by the right-wing drift of Conservative party rhetoric, particularly its attitude to welfare issues. I feel my views are more in tune with the Liberal Democrat part of the coalition, in balancing financial sense with compassion and fairness.

It is also clear to me that locally Mayor Dorothy Thornhill and the Lib Dems are doing a good job of running the council and making sure Watford continues to be a thriving and successful town.

In contrast I feel the other parties offer little in the way of a positive vision for Watford.”

The article goes on to highlights the difficulties and electoral decline of Watford’s Conservatives, meaning that the MP is now the only elected Conservative in the town.

Liberal Democrat Mayor Dorothy Thornhill welcomed Steve to the party:

Steve has been a well-informed and respected voice in the council chamber, in particular on housing issues.

He is also a dedicated and effective ward councillor and I have long felt that his views are more in tune with the Liberal Democrats than with the Conservative party.

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9 Comments

  • Slogan idea:

    Conservatives – Defecting here.

  • @Caracatus It probably is unusual although I remember there was a period in the early 2000’s when the now non-existent Sheffield Hillsborough constituency was 100% Lib Dem at council level but Labour at national level, however those days are sadly long gone.

  • Peter Taylor 18th Apr '13 - 2:47pm

    Gareth – I assume you are talking about Alistair Carmichael?

  • Er. would that be Alun Michael??? ( Cardiff South/Penarth). Ex-MP, ex-Welsh secretary, ex-Assembly First Leader and current PCC for South Wales Police.
    Cardiff North’s MP since 2010 is former MEP Conservative Jonathan Evans.

  • Alun Michael ( and the then AM, Lorraine Barrett) were for some years Labour representatives of a constituency which straddled 2 local authorities, neither of which were led by Labour (Cardiff being LD led, and the Vale of Glam being Tory/Plaid – though oddly plaid never talked about it!). All change now, with Labour everywhere. A shame for Cardiff, at least.

  • Nathan James 21st Apr '13 - 4:26pm

    Gareth, I presume the lib dem you are referring to is Jthe MP for Manchester Withington.

    On a wider point, Watford is bucking the national trend for the lib dems, and is doing so despite the current MP not being a lib dem. That is highly unusual, but is says a lot about the good organisation the lib dems have in Watford. The mayor Dorothy Thornhill has also been a great help in this.

  • Perhaps he was just lonely?

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