Lib Dem councillor in Barnsley joins Labour

The BBC reports:

Barnsley’s only Liberal Democrat councillor has joined Labour because of her opposition to her party’s decision to join a coalition government. Sharron Brook had represented the town’s Dearne Valley South ward as a Liberal Democrat since 2003. Her decision to switch to Labour, which controls Barnsley council, came after she was briefed on the government’s plans for children’s services. “It was on impulse really, I’d had enough,” she said.

Cllr Brook gained some prominence in the summer, when she circulated a leaflet denouncing the Lib Dems’ decision to go into coalition with the Conservatives, telling voters she was “as ashamed as you are” of her party. You can view the leaflet here.

Barnsley Lib Dems issued the following well-judged, more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger, statement:

Mohammed Illyas, president of Rotherham and Barnsley Liberal Democrat Party, said: “It is public knowledge that she has not been a supporter of the coalition government and that she sent a leaflet to her constituents in May asking them what they wished her to do with regards continuing to stand as a Lib Dem.

“Councillor Brook told party members that almost all comments indicated that she should remain as a Liberal Democrat councillor for Dearne South. This being the case, and noting the long time delay, we are surprised that she should announce her leaving the party on the eve of the Liberal Democrat conference.

“Councillor Brook has actively criticised and fought the Labour Party in Barnsley for over 15 years. Only now when there is a chance for Liberal Democrat policies to be put into action has she joined her erstwhile enemies.”

He said the party acknowledged the difficult job she had done “standing as a lone voice in Barnsley Town Hall”.

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  • Good.

    If only more of us had the strength of character…


    Additionally, a defection in Sheffield might lose the Lib Dems the Sheffield Council

  • Do they think that the 10p tax band helped the poor and that therefore Labour are the way forward? And do they think that the Lib Dems won the election? Coalition, means the bigger partner gets more policies through. And Labour insisted on ID Cards, locking up children in Yarl’s Wood and a doubling of higher education fees in negotiations.

    So what these people are saying, is that they support ID Cards, locking up children, and doubling the cost to the poorest going to university, shattering aspiration.

  • Andrew Suffield 17th Sep '10 - 11:33pm

    If only more of us had the strength of character…

    “us” meaning that you don’t have any strength of character?

    Seriously, that’s got to be the worst attempt at pretending to be a Lib Dem that I’ve seen in weeks.

  • @Henry

    “And Labour insisted on ID Cards, locking up children in Yarl’s Wood and a doubling of higher education fees in negotiations.”

    Where is the evidence for this assertion?

  • @olly

    You are not the Olly Grender are you? – ) Would be a great scoop if you were.

  • David Allen 18th Sep '10 - 1:03am

    Just imagine how many would leave the Lib Dems for Labour – If it weren’t for Iraq, Yarl’s Wood, Peter Mandelson being so intensely relaxed about millionaires, etc, etc.

  • @David Allen

    It is becoming increasingly clear that child detention isn’t being stopped completely; rather the coalition are going to minimise child detention by deporting families more quickly by restricting their right to appeal asylum decisions. Which is better, detaining families in Britain and hearing their cases properly or quickly deporting them to their country of origin to be detained or worse?

  • Olly – not desperate. Merely disappointed and cross. Because the things I mention matter to me.

  • So a Councillor changes party. Who cares ? Never heard of her before. Never will again. Biggest non-story of the day – get real !

  • thats my ward,

    I am far from ashamed, I was a little annoyed by the leaflet when i saw it, 🙂

    Sad though, we are a strong anti-tory area, the emotions still run deep, I cant believe anyone would prefer a tory only government though,

    although perhaps worst of all, because I voted for her, it now turns out I voted Labour!!! O.O

    ( I joined the party after the election, after the coalition was announced, partly to give liberals extra support then merely a vote, after they made the tought but correct choice of entering the coalition )

  • The problem with the party and its supporters is that after many years of being able to do so, you can’t have it both ways anymore. Henry, you’re a prime example of that. You can’t throw insults at the whole of the Labour party then claim you and our party are not tribal. You can’t write angry, insulting prose then claim any Labour supporter’s anger is synthetic. You can’t criticise Labour for Yarl’s Wood when our own party still hasn’t closed it – and has no timeline to do so, indeed incarcerating 2 children there only this week. You can’t claim that New Labour policies are the reason you despise them at the same time as separating Thatcher’s Conservatives from Cameron’s now we’re in Coalition with them. You can’t claim the decision to go to war in Iraq will never be forgiven, laying blame at Blair’s feet then cosy up with the Tories who to a member voted for the war – including Cameron.

    Clegg is saying what those of us on the left of the party have known since the Coalition announcement. He has shifted us significantly to the right and will keep us there as long as he is leader. Each of us has a decision to make as to how we respond to that. There is no loyalty in politics – ask Clegg when he admitted to changing his mind on defecit reduction before the election but elected not to tell anyone. Where was his loyalty to his members then?

    Me – I’m waiting to see who the Labour leader will be and what direction they take. I watched Question Time this week and was incredibly impressed by David Milliband. His Community scheme is truly inspiring and something that true Lib Dems would sign up to in a second.

    I can’t support Clegg and this shift to the right. I grew up in the North. I remember Thatcher’s legacy and the pain it caused millions. This Coalition is even more extreme than Thatcher – and our ‘wins’ in power mean nothing compared to that. It’ll be a move to Labour or Greens for me. No point rushing in though.

    I applaud Cllr Brook. There has been a steady stream of such defections and they will only continue to rise.

  • ‘Just imagine how many would leave the Lib Dems for Labour – If it weren’t for Iraq, Yarl’s Wood, Peter Mandelson being so intensely relaxed about millionaires, etc, etc.’

    Then perhaps we wouldn’t have had a right wing warmongering power centralising city ass licking 13 years!! Yes perhaps a more Liberal society instead – yes I think most Liberals could have lived with that … but this is Labour we are talking about – their record in Government speaks for itself – ALL Labour members should be totally ashamed of where they have led this country & its people – especially the less well off. I for one will NOT forget.

  • I find the trickle (not sure it’s much more than that) of Lib Dem – Lab defections rather puzzling; or perhaps ‘difficult to justify’ is a better expression.

    These people stood as Lib Dems, with party support, presumably because they believed in the principles of liberal philosophy (ok ok bit optimistic I accept).

    I can understand that they may be unhappy with elements of the coalition agreement – we can all pick items which make us uncomfortable (mine would be abolition of PCTs).

    And I can understand that for some people a point may be reached where compromise goes one step too far.

    So, leave the party. Leave the party and sit asan independent, saying “my principles are unchanged – therefore I can no longer support the Liberal Democrat Party”. But to defect to Labour?

    It doesn’t make sense!

  • And so it begins ha ha certainley standing as independent LD’s would be the honourable way foreward but maybe thats a tall order for you lot.Still you are satisfyingly spinning to oblivion or absorbtion shame your Tory masters are wiping out my job and my childrens futures at the same time.
    Seriousley I’d sooner vote Tory than you lot at least they are honest about their brutal philosophy.

  • BarnsleyBoy 19th Sep '10 - 8:02pm

    Hi All,

    Two other dimensions to the defection is the way that the Councilor in question behaved when thinking about the decision and how she (or her new Labour friends) have painted the decision.

    The local party knew she was agonising and gave time and respect to a long serving Councilor. (SB has worked almost single handedly to keep her seat in Dearne South, arranging leaflets etc herself.) She responded by allowing most Party members to find out she’d defected via a crowing post on a Labour Councillor’s Blog. Thanks. Nice.

    In the swaggering blog it says how “principled” and “honourable” the Councillor was to ask her Voters what she should do. What he didn’t mention is that 78 replies to her question “Do I Stay Or Do I Go Now?” said stay, 2 said go to Labour and 2 were rude! (Barnsley Chronicle 17.9.2010).

    So Councillor for the Liberal Democrats: only Democratic when the answer suits what you plan? Some say she’ll fit well into the Labour Party in Barnsley.

  • It does rather make me laugh that this is being hailed on Labour blogs as a “principled defection” because she asked the voters what they wanted her to do….no doubt embarrassing the local party in the process, as her leaflet made her views only too clear! “Hello voters, you voted for me to be your councillor, now can you decide which party I should join please?”

    After apparently being told to stay where she was by her respondents (see BarnsleyBoy) she decides to change parties “on impulse”!! Whats democratic and/or principled about that? If she was as principled as she is being held out to be she would stand down and call a by-election, then stand as an independent. At least that would have a degree of honour about it, but of course she might find out what the voters really want, and it might not be her. I imagine that after making a bit of propaganda out of her defection the stalwarts of liberalism in the Barnsley Labour Party will make sure that she sinks without trace…good luck Sharron!

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