Former Lib Dem by-election candidate Elizabeth Shenton defects to Labour

Newcastle councillor Elizabeth Shenton, Lib Dem candidate in the 2008 Crew and Nantwich by-election, has left the party to join Labour. Local paper The Sentinel reports:

A senior Lib Dem councillor and former parliamentary candidate has defected to Labour. Elizabeth Shenton said she had left the Liberal Democrats due to the coalition Government’s ‘damaging policies’. She has now joined the ruling Labour group on Newcastle Borough Council. Mrs Shenton, below, who was the Lib Dem candidate in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election in 2008, had been member of the party for 10 years.

Mrs Shenton, who has also served as chairman of Newcastle Lib Dems, said it had been a ‘painful’ decision to leave the party. … “I was still a preferred candidate for the Lib Dems, which made this decision even more difficult. I still have ambitions in both local and national politics, but I realise it will become more difficult to pursue those now. I’m now a small fish in a much bigger pond. This has been a painful decision to make. Crossing the floor is a bit like going through a divorce, and I know some of my former colleagues will be disappointed. But the real test for me will be when I stand for election again next year.”

Here’s how LDV reported the result of the by-election five years ago — What does Crewe mean for the Lib Dems? — noting of Elizabeth Shenton that she was “an energetic candidate, who emerged with a lot of credit”.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in Local government.


  • No great loss to the party. She was the worst by-election candidate I’ve ever delivered leaflets for. Good riddance.

  • I am not upset that Elizabeth has left the party, he campaign in Crewe almost made me leave the Party – a disgraceful campaign .

  • Oh and I note we lost her ward in 2012. In my opinion this is about saving her skin more than national politics.

  • I think rob has his finger on the story there.

  • For a party that is supposed to support personal choice and freedom, some of the comments above are extremely ugly to say the least.

    Living in a democratic society the lady has complete freedom to join and represent any party that she see’s fit too.

    To slate her now because of the choices she has made stinks and it is hardly a good advertisement for the party.

  • Reece Edmends 28th Apr '13 - 4:38pm

    I cannot believe the comments I have read. How many of you really know her?
    Elizabeth Shenton was the chair of my local party until last year. She was respected by everyone around and did a fine job holding a council seat in a traditionally Labour area.
    I think she made the wrong decision, but I am completely sure that she defected on a matter of principle and it was NOT about holding her seat.

  • I have to agree with Matt and Geoffrey, while I, too, know little of this lady or her past conduct, it still feels to me that some of the above comments are slightly unnecessary and overly personal.

  • I spent a weekend with my wife (and our erstwhile PPC, for whom definitely good riddance) in Crewe and Nantwich, and I did not see anything to which I would apply the adjective “disgraceful”. I would like to hear from those critics above what in particular they regard as so bad about Elizabeth Shenton?

  • Tony Dawson 28th Apr '13 - 8:11pm

    @Geoffrey Payne:

    “If she had stayed in the party most local parties would be delighted to have her as a candidate at the next election.”

    The Party still had her on it’s ‘accelerated promotion programme’ right up to the day she left, apparently. Was nobody talking to her or was it simply that what she was saying, nobody in the hierarchy wanted to hear?

  • Oh what a shame. She should have read Nick Clegg’s Good Reasons to Campaign for the Lib Dems”
    Including this choice extract:

    “6. We’ve helped to bring back forced, unpaid work,
    poverty and destitution
    and starvation too,
    And if that doesn’t motivate you, I dont know what will!”

    (Thats workfare, cuts to subsistence level benefits, and benefits sanctions leaving people with no income whatsoever.)

  • As my username hints I have some connection to Crewe! And was very active in the byelection.

    Elizabeth was an extremely diligent candidate and I am mystified by some of the comments above, particularly those criticising both Elizabeth and the byelection campaign [which had its faults]. Perhaps posters could explain why it was a “disgraceful” campaign, and why she is “no great loss” ?

  • crewegwyn
    I am sure we met and perhaps even stayed with you? I had the same perception as you.

  • In response to Matt, my comments were harsh but I think deserved. Firstly I’m getting a little tired now of defectors. Firstly because we are in a coalition and cannot achieve all we would like too or for that matter stop all we want too. We believe in plurality and this means we have to take the rough with the smooth. Defecting to Labour is even worse since many of the measures which we are being forced to take are down to their errors in Government.
    Secondly the right thing to do would be to resign and let the electorate decide, she has hoodwinked the electorate who elected her as a Lib Dem.
    Finally I don’t hold back when I discuss Labour politicians so why should she be any different. The simple fact was she was a rubbish candidate and we shouldn’t have selected her in the first place. Her actions in this defection only re-enforce what I thought of her before.

  • V frank from Rob and Colin but I’m fairly sure Labour get just as virile when one of theirs defects to lib dems. I can’t help wondering if there is something wrong with the selection process behind the acidity of the comments.

  • I hope she enjoys her time in the torture, rendition, ID card, DNA database-loving, internet snooping, child detaining illegal war Labour party.

  • Hmmm…..perhaps those who can, do. Those that can’t, deliver leaflets?

  • Rob,

    “We shouldn’t have selected her in the first place”

    Were you on the selection panel? . Do you know how many applicants there were? Do you know who was on the shortlist?

    How much did you see of her during the campaign? (I saw a lot)

    She was – in my view – a better candidate than the campaign allowed her to be ………..

  • As someone who worked full-time on the Crewe & Nantwich campaign I do think this is a sad loss. Elizabeth is one of the nicest candidates I’ve worked with, and given that the by-election campaign began straight after an intensive set of council elections, her personality certainly helped keep me going. It was never going to be the easiest campaign (although we’ve had plenty tougher ones since) but if there’s one part of it I don’t think you can criticise it was the candidate.

  • Helen Tedcastle 30th Apr '13 - 10:45am


    “Well I can understand leaving the Lib Dems, but joining Labour is an utter mystery to me. ”

    My feelings exactly. Labour are not a progressive or even left of centre alternative, simply authoritarian and managerially – centrist.

    I’m amazed Shenton thinks they have any credibility when the likes of Liam Byrne and other Blairite -ultras like Stephen Twigg, hold the Party back from saying anything of consequence?

    The fact that Blair and John Reid are weighing into the fray with their ‘warnings’ to Ed Miliband is a sure sign that the Blairites are back flexing their muscles of restraint against anything remotely radically Liberal or socially democratic.

  • Matthew Huntbach 1st May '13 - 10:21am


    Secondly the right thing to do would be to resign and let the electorate decide, she has hoodwinked the electorate who elected her as a Lib Dem

    Many people who used to vote for us are putting it the other way round – it is the Liberal Democrats who have hoodwinked the electorate by changing what they were about after the general election. How many former activists leaving the party are saying they are doing so because their personal opinion have changed? Very few. Most are saying their personal opinions have not changed, but the party has changed, so that by leaving the party they are staying true to what they stood for when they stood for election.

    I have myself continued to defend the formation of the coalition and the weakness of the Liberal Democrats within it on the grounds that it’s a consequence of the electoral system, those who suppose the Liberal Democrats were in a position to form a coalition and make unlimited demands on the senior partner have no sense of realism. But I feel my attempts to do this are constantly being undermined by the leadership of the party, who seem to want to be associated with the extreme right-wing economic policies of this government and so make out that it is practically a coalition of equals formed on shared political principles, rather than a miserable little compromise formed because it was the best that could be done under the circumstances.

    Part of the pragmatism of practical politics is that one accepts one has to work with others with whom one agrees on some things but not everything. Membership of a political party has to balance the practicality of being in one large enough to achieve something with the fact that such a party is likely to have aspects one personally disagrees with. Being in the Liberal Democrats already involves accepting one is in a party which has to work to gain every vote and very seat it wins, one might do it if one feels on balance it is very much better policy-wise and practice-wise from the big two parties, but a pragmatic decision to work instead within one of the bigger parties because it is much easier to get somewhere within them might be made – and is more likely to be made if the Liberal Democrats slip further from what one liked about them in the first place.

    This party is losing decent people who used to work hard for it at an alarming rate. Far from being concerned about this, the leadership of the party seem actually to be happy about it, encouraging them to leave, throwing abuse at those who express unhappiness at the party’s direction. There seem to be elements at the top of this party that want to turn it into just another one financed by wealthy people to push the sort of politics that favours wealthy people, and not in any need of thinking activists because it doesn’t want members who make demands on its leaders, let alone members who hold to the old idea that the party is theirs and the leader should be their servant rather than the other way round.

  • Martin Kinsella 2nd May '13 - 7:38am

    If she wishes to leave then good luck to her.

    I think the point about joining a party as socially illiberal as Labour is well made just as some of the personal attacks are unfortunate.

  • nvelope2003 2nd May '13 - 3:37pm


    Is it fair to say that Clegg wants people to starve ? Is it right that working people should have to pay taxes to support those who choose not to work ? There have to be some sanctions for those who refuse work. Just because welfare benefits are not as high as the sort of wages the people who contribute to these forums are used to receiving does not make them wrong. From talking to people on benefits it would appear that there are all sorts of additional payments or exemptions from paying things like the Council Tax which mean that they can sometimes get more than those in work. Many working people are very angry about this. I know of people who disapprove of the way their own children refuse to take a job as they are happy to live on benefits.

  • once you start defecting you can’t stop.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Simon Banks
    Like Mark, I remember 2010. What struck me about that, was that once Cleggmania had given us a big boost, we seemed to have no strategy to exploit it. If there ...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Catherine, It's all law not just some law. This is how the EU itself puts it: "The principle of the primacy (also referred to as ‘precedence’ o...
  • James Fowler
    If we make appreciable gains at this election, and it seems that we will, what are we going to do with them? At the moment not being the Tories is enough, b...
  • Martin Gray
    Simple Mick ...You as a British citizen are not allowed to vote in Greece's national elections. Unless that right is reciprocated why would should any Greek n...
  • Mick Taylor
    EU citizens, like me, can vote in local and EU elections in an EU country where they reside, but many are also registered in the UK, where they can vote in all ...