Sajjad Karim defects to Tories

That’s the story Sky News is carrying this morning, with an interview from Saj himself.

Alex Wilcock notes here that he had just been re-selected as a Lib Dem candidate for the European Parliament in the north-west – he finished second to Chris Davies:

Mr Karim – far from declaring his new-found Conservative vision – was an enthusiastic contender in this all-member Liberal Democrat election. I believe he was elected relatively narrowly last time, and that the number of seats in that region (as in most others) is being reduced. With Liberal Democrat members voting for him to be in the same place as he was last time, second, it looks like he thought his job was safer in the Tories.

Helen Foster-Grime is now the second-placed Lib Dem candidate in the north-west of England.
Update: As noted in the comments below, Helen Foster-Grime won’t automatically take second. A recount of preference votes will take place to determine the new second-placed prospective Euro candidate and how the other candidates move up.

Update2: The votes have been recounted and a revised list is now available on Colin Rosenstiel’s website.

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  • Steve Cooke 26th Nov '07 - 8:45am

    The quote from the Party on Sky’s website reads as follows:

    “We are saddened that Saj Karim has decided to leave the Liberal Democrats following the results of the selection process for the North West region of the European Parliament.

    “Although Saj was elected in second place on the Liberal Democrat list for the European Parliament we were confident that he would have secured re-election to the Parliament.

    We are sorry that his disappointment in the result has led him to switch parties.”

    Saj tells Sky that he’s been considering moving for two years – a bit deceitful keep on sitting as a Lib Dem when it’s not really what you believe. A real shame for the party in my view.

  • Martin Land 26th Nov '07 - 8:51am

    I shall keep my comments for the members area.

  • Grammar Police 26th Nov '07 - 9:14am

    Why go through the hassle of the selection if you’ve been considering defecting?

    Just looks like sour grapes because he didn’t come first, and was perhaps worried about losing his seat. In the long-run I wonder if the Tory members will actually want him.

  • This is a real shame. He is a great guy and will be truely missed.

    The tories are very lucky.

  • from Karim’s blog this June:

    “Whilst Cameron attempts to paint a glossy image of a gay-friendly party in the UK, he is also desperately trying to get into bed, at European level, with Poland’s openly homophobic ‘Law and Justice’ party. I just hope the British public see Chameleon Cameron for who he really is!!!”

  • Robin Young 26th Nov '07 - 9:28am

    We had a similar thing in Camden when a bloke called Havard Hughes (ex Lib Dem councillor in Brent) buggered off to the Tories immediately after failing to get chosen as either local party chairman (I was dumb enough to vote for him) or prospective parliamentary candidate in Holborn & St Pancras. I heard Sajjad Karim interviewed on Today (Radio 4) this morning and knew without even knowing who they were speaking to or what his circumstances were that this was another disappointed careerist making a sour-mouthed exit. When asked why he was leaving now he talked vaguely about the Liberal Democrats having their heads in the sand like ostriches and David Cameron having “vision”. Less than convincing, Saj, old mate. You’ll have to try a lot, lot harder if you are going to get anywhere from now on. If I were you I’d sign on at the Job Centre without more ado.

  • Grammar Police 26th Nov '07 - 9:33am

    I think we should repeat this at every available opportunity:

    “Whilst Cameron attempts to paint a glossy image of a gay-friendly party in the UK, he is also desperately trying to get into bed, at European level, with Poland’s openly homophobic ‘Law and Justice’ party. I just hope the British public see Chameleon Cameron for who he really is!!!”

  • Geoffrey Payne 26th Nov '07 - 9:41am

    There is nothing wrong in being ambitious. Personally I would like to see more of it in the Lib Dems.
    To accuse defectors of thwarted ambition when they leave sounds like sour grapes.
    Personally I have never defected from anywhere to anywhere, and I will be surprised if I ever do, but I do not believe that political parties should be ideological strightjackets from which you must never leave.
    Change happens all the time, and often the Liberal Democrats benefit from people who defect to us.
    Since Sajjad is an MEP, he must know what the Tory policy is on Europe. Assuming he joined the party with his eyes wide open, then it is hard to see how a Euro-sceptic would fit in ideologically with the Liberal Democrats.
    So I am sorry to see him go, but he must have made his choice on what he believes.

  • I am extremely saddened by this news. Saj was a very effective MEP, and the only BME elected parliamentarian in the Liberal Democrats.
    I believe he was the only incumbant MEP to come in second position, and unfortunately, the only ethnic minority.
    If anyone is in any doubt- we have a crisis in our continuing democratic deficit in this area.

  • Does nobody think that the total lack of response from the party to the kind of campaign that Chris Davies ran in the North West has anything to do with it?

  • Angus J Huck 26th Nov '07 - 9:54am

    It is open to a Westminster MP or a local councillor who defects to maintain that he/she was elected as an individual and is thereby entitled to switch parties without seeking a fresh electoral mandate.

    A MEP cannot do this because MEPs are elected on a party list, not as individuals belonging to a party.

    Sajj Karim is a fraud who has cheated his consituents and is ripping off the taxpayers of the European Union.

    He should resign and allow the Lib Dem next on the list to take his place.

    Then he can totter off to Charlbury and lick Cameron’s boots with a clear conscience.

  • As a non-Lib Dem could I politely ask for some clarification? Whenever in the past anyone has defected to the Liberal Democrats they’ve been hailed for their principled stance and their new-found enlightenment has been welcomed. So why does a defector from the Liberal Democrats have to be a sour grapes ridden hypocrite? And besides if 2nd place in the NW Euro selection was a big enough disappointment to shift him, doesn’t that mean that you are all accepting the inevitability that you will lose seats in the Euro elections since that was how he won last time?

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Nov '07 - 9:58am

    Looks like Mr Karim is another of those people who know how to look good and sound good, but underneath all they care about is their career. All the more to show anyone we put in a leading position in our party MUST be someone we are absolutely sure has been with us when it hasn’t been in his/her career interest, is truly motivated by what our party is for, and will stick with us through good and bad times. Shiny smooth people with the gift of the gab so often get over-promoted and disappoint.

  • A voice from Lothian 26th Nov '07 - 9:58am

    11 – It appears that NW England was the only region with two sitting MEPs running for selection so it is hardly a surprise that there is a sitting MEP in second place on that list.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Nov '07 - 10:01am

    Chris C – your clarification is that it’s rarely in someone’s career interest to join the Liberal Democrats. There are many of us who have joined and stuck with this party, even though we could have had comfy political careers had we joined the Labour or Conservative Party.

  • 10. sure, no party should be a straitjacket, but why would you stand for MEP reselection for a party you were thinking of leaving?

  • Thanks for the clarification. It does rather confirm my views, though. The most “comfy” political careers are surely in the Lib Dems, where you are never likely to suffer the unfortunate responsibility that goes with power.

    And you can pretend to be the nice Party even when one of your MPs says that your Conservative opponents are indistinguishable from the BNP, when that same individual proposes to engage in debate with Nick Griffin (without so far as I can see a word of criticism from the Lib Dem blogosphere). Oh dear. Oh dear.

  • Sajjad was elected as a Liberal Democrat on the basis of a party list vote. He was not elected as an individual, but as a representative of a particular political party.
    If he has an ounce of respect for the democratic will of the people of the North West he will step down from the European Parliament and allow the democratic wishes of his constituents to be met.

  • I don’t think he’ll be happy in his new home, reading the comments on Con Home.

  • Grammar Police 26th Nov '07 - 10:38am

    Oh dear. Oh dear, Chris C, I suspect you’re a member of another party seeking to wind us up.
    Nonetheless, being a Liberal Democrat is one of the most frustrating things I do. I respect all members of political parties, but the truth is, in many places it would be far easier to get myself elected as a Tory or a Labour party member. Saj has made some pretty anti-Tory comments in the past, he was also happy enough to stand for selection as a Liberal Democrat for another four years. He didn’t come top and so he’s quit. I think it’s fair enough to point out that that looks like the actions of a careerist.

    Btw, there have been lots of Lib Dem blog comments on the Oxford Union debate.

  • “I believe he was elected relatively narrowly last time, and that the number of seats in that region (as in most others) is being reduced.”

    yes, he got the last North West seat in 2004. And with the seat reduction in NW next time, he would have not won it with the same results as in 2004. However the 9th seat (his one) and the 8th seat (Con) were very close in 2004. So being second was a big risk, but not impossible to get re-elected

  • careerism. end of.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Nov '07 - 10:54am

    Chris C – the LibDems are not in the positions of the Labour and Conservative parties where there are still large numbers of people who vote for them “because we always do”. We know that if we want votes, we’re going to have to go out and win them, not just suppose they will come rolling in never mind what we do.

    There are many Liberal Democrat councillors who are in positions of responsibility in local government and having to make difficult decisions. The decisions made in local government often more directly affect the lives of people than the decisions made in national government. It most certainly is not a “comfy” job being a councillor. But it is comfier if you’re a Labour or Conservative councillor in a “safe seat” where you know you’re always going to get re-elected. There are few such safe Liberal Democrats seats. That is why we LibDems cannot get complacent and so have to give better service to our constituents.

  • Thanks for the insight, Matthew. So given that you’re such marvellous servants of the people why exactly were so many Lib Dem administrations wiped out in the local elections? Why didn’t your dedication impress the people of Waverley, Bournemouth, Torbay etc. etc.?

  • Chris C – Why has your darling Cameron plummeted in the polls this last week?

  • Oh please don’t mistake me for a Conservative. I only logged on today to see if you highly principled Lib Dems would be as horrified as I was (and any decent person should be) by Evan Harris’s disgusting performance on the Today programme.

    The deafening silence tell us all we need to know.

  • Stephen – why don’t you think that equating the Conservatives with the BNP was inappropriate in any way? I thought the Tory MP showed dignity and judgment and Harris dragged the debate to the sewer. Its just puerile mud-slinging to say you can’t distinguish the Tories from the BNP and an important debate isn’t advanced much by adopting such tactics.

  • Egg on face for Lord Greaves I fear who fast-tracked Saj through the selection process last time, to the extent that he shamefully got the rules overturned which originally had male and female occupying the first two places on a list. Greaves got the party to agree that the highest placed woman candidate could be as low as three so that his boy could get number two in the NW. Shame that he never asked him if he was a Liberal Democrat.

  • I didn’t listen to the Today Programme this morning (radio doesn’t work very well on trains), so I didn’t hear Evan Harris’s performance.

    What I guess he did was defend free speech, and explain his courageous decision to debate with Nick Griffin and David Irving at the OU tonight.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Nov '07 - 11:48am

    Chris C – as I said, Liberal Democrats have to go out and win votes, they don’t come in regardless. Part of the problem is that when LibDems win control of councils, their activists all get busy being councillors and doing the administration, and don’t do as much doorknocking and leafleting as they used to.

    Apart from that, having done it and given it up myself, I rather feeling that local government is a mug’s game. Basically, you’re putting yourself in an impossible situation where you’re the one held to blame for some of the most intractable problems in society. They’ll moan at you when you put the council tax up, but they’ll moan at you even more when you cut things to try and keep it down.

    A lot of the changes in political power are simply an anti-incumbency vote. Whoever’s in power gets exhausted trying to do the impossible, and eventually gets voted out so the other lot get out in to try and do the impossible.

  • How I wish I could do as Sajjad Karim has done, and leave the Liberal Democrats for the Conservatives. Life would be so much easier, with all those social events to attend and outings to go on. No need to go out delivering leaflets any more, as that could be left to the paid deliverers.

    Unfortunately I am a Liberal and see the Conservatives as Illiberals for all the posturing of Dave Cameron. If you have any doubts about this go to the ConservativeHome website and read the views expressed.
    So I will carry on along the narrow, rocky uphill path instead of taking the easy smooth, downhill one.

  • Rabi Martins 26th Nov '07 - 1:01pm

    This is distrous news for the Liberal Democrats. We can expect many of his supporters to follow him

    It confirms what we have been saying – our Party is not Ethnic Minority Friendly

    I suspect one of the contirbutory factors to Saj coming second in the Euro Selections – which would have led at ;east in part to his decision – is that the local Partywill have lost many of the ethnic minority members who helped him secure first place the last time.

    Our leadership contenders need to issue a statement and say why ethnic minority members should stay in the Party – let alone why other EM individuals should join

  • Which Party is your Party, Rabi Martins?

    And preview your comments before submitting them. You will then be able to correct all those errors.

  • Karim is just a careerist, definitely NOT a Liberal as he is joining the party that is home to the likes of Rick (I love white supremacy) Willis.

    I see he’s keen on Tory immigration policy too, so he’s now, presumably a Muslim xenophobe.

  • Rabi Martins – Saj was second on the Euro selections list in 2004 as well, nothing has changed in that respect. Chris Davies, who has been an MEP since 1999, was top in 2004 and again this time.

    Are you trying to say we should place an EM candidate before a longer serving MEP just because he’s from an EM?

  • Martin Land 26th Nov '07 - 1:42pm

    40. People should stay in or join a party because they really believe in the principles and beliefs of that party; whichever it may be.
    Liberal Democrats who are members of ethnic minorities should succeed or fail just like the rest of us and should have no additional advantage – nor any additional handicap. If you don’t believe that….

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Nov '07 - 1:46pm

    Rabi Martins, your message is appalling, and basically suggests ethnic minority members of the party are unprincipled sorts who will go to whatever party offers them jobs on the basis of the colour of their skins. I would very much hope that our ethnic minority members have enough principles and commitment to their party that they would no more defect to another just because one of their race does so, than a white member would defect to another just because another white member does so.

    Ethnic minority members should join our party on the same basis that any other member should – that they agree with the principles of liberal democracy as set down in its preamble.

    If Mr Karim had left because he felt the party was racist, I’d say fair enough so long as he gave examples, but he hasn’t said that. If he had left because honestly he had changed his mind about his political beliefs, or felt the party had changed from what it was when he joined it, I’d also say fair enough. But if he were a decent person he’d have the guts to come before us and explain himself and reply to our comments.

    And he most definitely would NOT have done it after just standing for a candidate post and coming a narrow second. That is just unprincipled behaviour from someone who is obviously just in it for the power and money.

    Mr Karim’s behaviour is a disgrace, Mr Martins, and if you were a decent person, you’d see that as well.

  • Presumably he now also supports the Iraq invasion as his new party did so enthusiastically.

    I do hope the muslim voters of the NW are reminded of this at every possible opportunity.

  • Rabi Martins 26th Nov '07 - 2:34pm

    Matthew 46 – Pity you find it difficult to understand why ethnic minority individuals are increasingly questionning why they should continue to work within and for our (Liberal Democrats) Party

    As I recall Saj only succeeded last time because he was able to recruit significant number of ethnic minority members.
    If the only way we get ethnic minority members on board is by getting ethnic minority supporters to vote him or her in then surely that is a sad state of affairs – and should be unaccpetable to all Liberal Democrats

    I had not realised that Saj was unhappy within the Party for the past two years.
    If that is true could it be because having been elected he found he was not being valued and being given the same opportunities as his other colleagues?

    My initial reaction might have been a little over the top – but the fact remains – just at present the other two Parties are looking like they are more keen to have all sections of the community represent them in Parliamnet (UK or European) than our own

    And before some of you castigate me for not making these critical comments within a “closed forum” — I simply think it is time to air our frustrations in public – for the long term good of the Party!

    Believe me – as one who has been a Party member for over 20 years .. IT HURTS to admit we are not the most ethnic minority friendly Party in the land!

  • Please defect Rabi Martins.

    This sort of crap – and it really is crap too- in a public forum just gives ammunition to the Tory parties.

    The two Tory parties spend their time vying to be most anti-immigrant & xenophobic. If Karim now takes the Michael Howard view of immigration that he’s here now, keep the others out, then he’s a hypocrite as well as disloyal.

  • Angus J Huck 26th Nov '07 - 3:01pm

    “As I recall Saj only succeeded last time because he was able to recruit significant number of ethnic minority members.”

    The practice of recruiting members to political parties from ethnic and religious communities in order to select for public office persons from those communities is immoral, contrary to the interests of democracy and violates the principle that those who have equitable ownerships of the party’s assets, and have the power to decide party policy and elect its officers, should agree with the party’s aims and values.

    Michael O’Halloran started it, Piara Khabra turned it into a fine art, certain Liberal Democrats have done it (won’t name names), and it has to stop.

    Do we want to go down the US road, where aspirants to public office have to curry favour with minority leaders so they can amass sufficient block votes to win?

    This is pork-barrel politics of the worst kind.

    Women, ethnic minority, gay, lesbian, disabled, whatever kind of candidate, have to win on their own merits.

    If we select people on the basis of quotas, then we are guilty of tokenism and reverse discrimination, which the electorate is likely to view with disdain.

    How did Labour benefit from all those token women? How many distinguished themselves?

    And where do we stop with quotas? Quotas for Freemasons? Moonies? Seventh Day Adventists?People born on Thursdays?

  • passing tory 26th Nov '07 - 3:15pm


    I see you are spouting your normal bile. If your lack of tolerance is anything like average for a Lib Dem then I am not surprising that an EM candidate may wish to switch from the party you claim to represent.

    Precisely how many ethnic minority Lib Dem MPS/MEPs/MSPs are there? I suggest that you put your own house in order before accusing other parties of being intrinsically racist.

  • No tolerance at all for xenophobes, racists, hypocrites & careerists.

    Perhaps you should ask your fellow party member Cllr Willis about his views on white supremacist dictators.

  • Angus J Huck 26th Nov '07 - 3:30pm

    “Perhaps you should ask your fellow party member Cllr Willis about his views on white supremacist dictators.”

    And perhaps you will also ask why Nicholas Fairbairn MP denounced Bob Geldof as a “publicity seeking Jew”.

  • Angus did this comment also apply to Bill Newton Dunn when he did the reverse a few yaers ago?
    Sajj Karim is a fraud who has cheated his consituents and is ripping off the taxpayers of the European Union.

    He should resign and allow the Lib Dem next on the list to take his place.

  • Angus J Huck 26th Nov '07 - 3:45pm

    No 57: I was waiting for that one. Yes, of course, the same strictures apply to all MEPs. Robert Kilroy-Silk included. The difference with Bill Newton-Dunn is that he did wait until near the end of his term to defect.

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Nov '07 - 4:08pm

    Mr Martins – your initial message was not just over the top but dangerous because it suggested, as already said, a desire to a switch to tribal politics in which members of some ethnic group play “follow my leader” and instead of supporting a political party for its principles support it because some leading figure of their ethnicity supports it – and defect en masse if he decides go go elsewhere.

    The danger with what you are proposing is that we become so set up on getting more ethnic minority members in leading positions, that we push up any ambitious person with a black or brown skin without giving them the sort of close scrutiny we would a white person. Then, since this is likely to benefit in particular careerists who are taking advantage, we will get just more of what we have observed here, as they sell themselves to the highest bidder. Then this will in itself lead to precisely the sort of prejudice you are trying to avoid.

    If Mr Karim can bring some real examples of where he feels he has been racially discriminated against, let him do so. But I don’t feel coming a close second in a contest with someone who is just as well known and respected as he was counts as racial discrimination.

    There is a huge problem which all the political parties face, in that only a certain sort of rather weird person tends to join them these days, and this weirdness tends to be bundled up with other things which tend to mean fewer ethnic minority people do it than others. I have an enormous respect for ethnic minority members of our party who are trying to push through it, and yes, I am sure it can be daunting sitting in an otherwise all-white meeting. But I haven’t seen any evidence of conscious racism in our party. Unconscious racism may exist – and I would be grateful to people like you if you point out where you think it happens. But you do not help your case, in fact you enormously damage it, by the sort of over-the-top comments, and in fact nasty threats, you made in your first response.

  • Its true that Saj received a lot of support from Ming. More than most of us could expect. In the last few months he was ringing up the Leaders office on a regular basis complaining about his rival in the North West selection.
    Had he said in giving his reason for defection, that he was disappointed in coming second, and the Tories had made him a better offer, then I think we would all accept that. But to state that he is impressed with Cameron’s position on immigration, has lost him any credibility.
    In my speech at London Regional Conference last week, I said how the Tories had been actively trying to poach Lib Dem BME members.
    Until Saj, they had failed to secure a high profile defection.
    I think it is incumbant on all of us to recruit more ethnic minority members, for the right reasons: our policies and principles resonate far more with BME communities, who are more likely to feel the brunt of the Labour Governments increasngly illiberal encroachment on our civil liberties.

  • George Kaplan 26th Nov '07 - 5:09pm

    I too find it interesting that when Labour and Conservative politicians defect it is treated as a oral triumph and when the situation is reveresed it is purely for career gains.

    In truth, the Liberal Democrats have a reputation among other political parties (of which I AM a member of one) as being very shifty, perpetually claiming that ‘…it’s a two horse race between Labour/Tories and Lib Dems’ when the Lib Dems rank a distant third and wish to con people into voting for them and hence taking second place.

    They typically employ nefarious tactics such as claiming to be the ‘local’ choice as they did in Sedgefield when they were one of the few parties not to select a candidate from within the consituency. And let’s not forget that disgusting stunt they pulled in Cheadle by electing a woman on death’s door so they could fight a by-election (and bring in an army of volunteers to camp on people’s floors for three weeks) and hold on to the top Tory target seat.

    In their attack on Labour they STILL rattle on about the decision t go to war in Iraq which happend 4 AND A HALF YEARS AGO, proving that the Lib Dems’ success in 2004 (Euro) and 2005 (General) were merely a protest vote.

    And as for the Conservatives and Labour having a clear bedrock of support, that is because you know what they stand for. Everyone knows that the Conservatives are committed to less regulation, lower taxes, green policies, strong defence and restrictions of immigration. Labour stand for more welfare, higher taxes and standing up for the working classes.

    The Lib Dems pretend to be Tories in blue areas despite being pro-European, pro-high taxes and more quangos and regulation. But then they turn up Liverpool Manchester and Newcastle and pretend to be socialists reborn!

    Let’s face it, the Lib Dems lie more than the BNP (and that IS saying something) and seem to believe that by slowly worming their way into the voters hearts and minds by burying them knee deep in focus leaflets taking credit for everything, that their string of lies and carefully worded propoganda that they are justified when they (never gonna happen!) form a government that forms some silly House of Lords comprised of elected PPC rejects, wind farms (all LD MPs i support but none support one in their own constituency), legalising drugs and being soft and friendly on crime.

    I voted Lib Dem once (when my party of choice was not on the ballot paper) and now, would vote for that other major party being on the ballot paper despite it going against my principles to avoid voting for the Lying Democ RATS.

    p.s. Yes, you were against the Iraq War, come back when you have some new ideas (and principles if you ever get any).

  • Grammar Police 26th Nov '07 - 5:23pm

    George – that’s the funniest thing I’ve read all day. Thanks for making it just that little bit better.
    I love the hatred we inspire in other political parties.

  • Let’s not get drawn into responding to morons like George Kaplan – but are British troops still fighting and dying in an illegal war in Iraq that was supported by the majority of Labour and Conservative MPs? Yes – so the people who supported that war then have no moral authority to tell us to stop going on about it.

    I would like to know what sort of a deal Saj Karim has done with Cameron. Is there are Tory MEP vacancy in the North West? If so, how do they select their MEPs? Is it likely that he will be selected if he puts himself forward? Has Cameron offered him a safe Westminster seat, or a peerage?

  • The Times now putting the boot in:

    In the angriest of his postings on alleged Tory homophobia on June 9, Mr Karim wrote on his blog “With their failure to support a resolution condemning discriminatory remarks by political and religious leaders targeting homosexuals, the Tories have shown their true colours. Tory apathy in the face of rising homophobia should come as no surprise as, today, the Conservative camp is rife with contradiction.

    “Whilst Cameron attempts to paint a glossy image of a gay-friendly party in the UK, he is also desperately trying to get into bed, at European level, with Poland’s openly homophobic ‘Law and Justice’ party. I just hope the British public see Chameleon Cameron for who he really is!!!”

    A further posting also attacks the Conservatives as giving unequal representation to women. In a piece to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, he claimed that “the likes of UKIP and the Tories” were “dragging the British record down” on equal representation in Brussels.

    In a further posting in October last year on environmental issues, Mr Karim wrote: “As David Cameron will soon learn to his detriment – substance matters more than appearance!”

    Mr Karim has so far failed to return phone calls from The Times today. But a spokeswoman said that some postings had been placed on his blog by an employee without Mr Karim’s knowledge, and the employee had subsequently been disciplined.

    “This is something that an employee has put up without his knowledge, and was actually disciplined for it,” she said. However, she was unable to explain why, despite the disciplinary action, the postings were still in place almost six months later.

    Ah yes, the Grant Shapps manouevre, beloved of liars everywhere.

  • Mike Gradwell 26th Nov '07 - 5:47pm

    It is very interesting to read all the comments – even the ones from people who oppose the Liberal Democrats and want to insult us. My great concern about this defection is that I voted for Saj – I voted for a Tory! If he had defected a earlier it would have saved my embarrassment.

  • 62. -‘Labour stand for more welfare, higher taxes and standing up for the working classes.’
    Well thanks for clearing up that one. Here’s me thinking they stood for higher taxes for the lower paid,tax breaks for the mega rich with off shore accounts,and reducing welfare!

  • Rabi Martins 26th Nov '07 - 6:14pm

    Bridget – 61

    “I agree strongly with Meral. Rather than pigeon-holing voters on the basis of their ethnicity, we should set out our Lib Dem values” –

    So Bridget how come you diod not object to special measures being taken to ensure more women got selected into winnable parliamentary and assembly seats

    And are you really saying the likes of Meral are not good enough to be selected – or did the fact that she also happened to be an ethnic minority women work against her in the GLA elections??

  • “Is there are Tory MEP vacancy in the North West? If so, how do they select their MEPs? Is it likely that he will be selected if he puts himself forward? ”

    yes, one of the 3 Con NW MEPs is retiring.
    If I’ve understood correctly from ConHome about their selection rules, sitting MEPs should face first the Regional Selection College (regional officers, association chairmen and co). The RSC can reselect them at the top of the list or not. If they survive the RSC vote, they will be sure to be at the top positions in the list. Then members should rank sitting MEPs and then after sitting MEPs the rest. The first candidate after the sitting MEPs reselected must be a woman.
    So if Karim will be considered a sitting MEP and if he passes the RSC vote, he will be sure to be in the top 3 (Tories currently have 3 seats in NW)

  • What a sulker!

  • 70. I’ve read that the top position has to go to a woman according to their party rules.
    Reading the remarks from Saj’s new colleagues on Conservativehome makes me almost feel sorry for him!

  • All a bit sad really – I might well have put Saj as my first preference (had my ballot paper arrived in time). And no, I’m not a muslim.

    Very odd that only a few weeks ago he was promoting his Lib Dem credentials, and now we are a party going nowhere!

  • “This is something an employee has put up without his knowledge, and was actually disciplined for it”.

    Let’s get this right: one of his employees wrote something attacking an opposition political party in completely unexceptionable terms, and WAS DISCIPLINED FOR IT? He must have been a difficult person to work for.

  • passing tory 26th Nov '07 - 8:22pm


    All it does is highlight the tribal nature of party politics. People in one party are expected to slag off people in another. And it is very clear from this that for all Cleggy’s and Huhne’s claims to the contrary, the Lib Dems are as deeply instilled in this as everyone else. Probably more in fact, as Sajjad – in his Tory guise – was really quite nice about Lib Dems when I heard him on Today this morning whereas in his Lib Dem guise he was obviously expected to be quite vicious (judging from the things he had written in the past). Which rather supports my hypothesis that
    there is a much greater tolerance of hatred and inflammatory language in the Lib Dems than there is in the Tory party.

  • Roger Whittle 26th Nov '07 - 9:23pm

    Oh dearie me. Has the tory man forgotten Mike Heseltine v Margaret Thatcher, Geoffrey Howe’s speech about her(he was nowhere near nasty enough!), or the cuddly Ms Widdecombe’s comments about the general nocturnalness of Michael Howard. John Major is probably the only politician in history to have told the truth about the bastards in his cabinet(the wrong kind of bastards maybe?). What does Sajjid see in the Tories I wonder. Maybe he just thought labour was too right wing?

  • passing tory 26th Nov '07 - 9:45pm


    In the examples you give, dissent was expressed in the most civilised terms. One can have differences of opinion and clashes of personality (indeed, it is to be expected) but it is how you express these that are the indicator of civility. In fact, I think that if anything the Tories (well, the ones I have worked with certainly) are just too nice and are reluctant to engage in the sort of street-fighting politics the Lib Dems promote (c.f Rennard).

  • Dave Smithson 26th Nov '07 - 9:52pm

    Whatever the rights and wrongs of this decision only one person has to sleep with it on his conscience at night – and the manner in which it was done – and that is Saj Karim.

    But for the record – and as the person until today responsible for maintaining Saj’s blog – I must take issue with the statement that “This is something that an employee has put up without his knowledge, and was actually disciplined for it,” she said. However, she was unable to explain why, despite the disciplinary action, the postings were still in place almost six months later.

    Quite an easy explanation actually – no such disciplinary action ever took place.

    Need I say more??

    A former “employee”

  • Well spotted Alix!! Now if only he had taken the trouble to talk to me…………

  • I find all the talk from the Lib Dems of Saj standing down as they were elected on the list rather than in person very funny. I was living in the East Midlands when Bill Newton Dunn, who was elected on the Conservative Party list and never stood down.

    This after gaining so councillors, MPs and MEPs from defections, to NOW be demanding that Saj stand down. The next time that anyone defects from any other party I expect that the Liberal Democrats will force him or her to stand for re-election.

  • Lib Dem member 26th Nov '07 - 10:04pm

    Passing Tory:- I wonder how many Conservative members blogs you read? Try out some like Justin Hinchcliffe’s and you will find frequently far more personal bile, hatred and vitriol in just one posting there than in a full day’s worth of blog postings from different Liberal Democrats on

    You could also try reading some of the comments from Conservative supporters on blogs such as this one. They again frequently contained far more personal hatred and petty insults (DimLebs? Ha ha ha so very funny) than you get from Labour or Liberal Democrat commenters.

  • It looks pretty clear that Mr Karim has broken employment law in the way he has dismissed his staff ( even if they were employed on a temporary or fixed contract ) . I would hope they take legal action against him .

  • passing tory 26th Nov '07 - 10:30pm

    Lib Dem member,

    I read a fair cross-section. It should hardly be surprising that political blogs are somewhat rude about political opponents (although, I have been quite staggered by what passes for negative campaigning South Carolina-style; thank goodness this sort of thing is still relatively uncommon over here). And part of this is what those engaged in the process would just term the rough-and-tumble of politics.

    Whether this is really a turn-off for the electorate is a bit of a moot point. When questioned, people will generally claim they don’t like it but then it is undoubtedly effective, so something doesn’t add up.

    But what you will not find (or, at least I haven’t come across) are Tories whose political outlook is fueled by hatred. I am sure – by the laws of very large numbers – that there are some, somewhere. On the other hand I have come across a scary number of Lib Dems on here and other areas whose seem to justify themselves by e.g. hatred of Tories. I hasten to add, this is not all Lib Dems, and I very much appreciate the reasoned debate that many engage in. But it seems incredibly ironic to me that there is a rush to place the “nasty party” tag on others when there is such an acceptance of casual hatred in your own party.

  • You might have a slightly different view of some of your colleagues if you saw some of the comments from Conservatives that get snaffled by moderation Passing Tory 🙂

    Here’s one from yesterday (on balance, I think the point is best made without editing it):

    “Fuck off you little piece of shit”

    (That was it in full)

    And that’s not that unusual. In fact, our policy of moderating abusive comments catches almost only comments from Conservatives – only the very occassional one from a Lib Dem, Labour or other/independent commenter.

    Oh, and that’s before I start mentioning the repeated fashion amongst Tories to post comments pretending to be Liberal Democrat members. It’s clearly the fashionable thing down your way with your colleagues!

  • Richard Church 26th Nov '07 - 11:04pm

    ToryDave @ 81. When Bill Newton Dunn joined the Lib Dems his erstwhile colleagues Roger Helmer and Chris Heaton Harris demanded his resignation. They even took the No4 on the Tory list to Brussels to demand their right to take Bill’s seat.

    Are they doing the same this time?

  • Cheltenham Robin 26th Nov '07 - 11:13pm

    Rabi Martins

    You say that Saj will probably take some of his asian supporters with him.

    Have they not got minds of their own?

    I want to help elect Liberal Democrats because they believe in our principles.

    Not because they are Asian/Black/Gay/Women etc…..

  • Tories not the nasty party?

    Strange, almost every Tory politician I have ver met has been, er, nasty (a few honourable exceptions).

    And Tories never nasty to each other?

    How about Richard Needham on Mrs Thatcher: “I wish that cow would resign.”

    Or Sir Edward Dillon Lott Du Cann on John Selwyn Gummer: “An inconsequential little squit who has never grown out of student politics.”

    Or John Redwood on John Major: “That nasty man.”

    Anne Widdecombe is the “Blue Nun” (F Maude) and Dame Joan Vickers was “Dame Joan Knickers”.

    And what they said about Norman St John Stevas is frankly unprintable. Not in a decent family publication like LDV.

  • George Kaplan 26th Nov '07 - 11:16pm

    To Stephen Tall:

    Actually I was aware of the circumstances of Patsy Carlton’s death; it doesn’t change the fact that she KNEW she was going to die very soon after the election. Whatever local activists said, if the Liberal Democrats had a shred of decency they would have told her she could not stand again, but they were worried about losing the seat without an incumbant. Hence they literally wheeled a non-walking corpse into an electon campaign so they could elect another puppet once she was gone.

    When campaigning in a recent by-election I met many members of the other parties; Labour, Tories, Greens etc and they were all friendly and accomodating – except the Liberal who were obscenly rude and obnoxious. And all parties were in agreement that the Lib Dem campaign was deceitful and lamentable.

    And don’t the opinion polls show the real truth about the (laugh) ‘real alternative’? Tories booming but comng only a couple of months since they were in disarray and Labour being rocked with a new scandal every day and yet people still don’t want to vote Lib Dem because they offer nothing but half-baked, soft on drugs, soft on crime hippie policies, it won’t be long before they go the same way as other pointless paries like the Greens, BNP and UKIP.

  • If George Kaplan really is familiar with the circumstances of Patsy Calton’s death, perhaps he can have the decency to spell her name correctly. He could also try looking up the word “incumbent” in the dictionary. Also “obscenely”.

    What exactly does George mean by “soft on drugs”? Is he in favour of conning the electorate into believing that Customs and Police are capable of stopping illegal drugs getting into this country and people consuming them? He is peddling a very dangerous deceit if he is.

    Presumably George is in favour of drug users robbing people to pay for their habit, because that is the inevitable consequence of prohibition. Typical brainless Tory thinking.

    Didn’t Norman Tebbit once bemoan the proliferation of poor spelling in modern Britain?

    Same old pompous, hypocritical Tories, eh?

  • “How very amateurish of you not to defect as well, Dave…”says Alix

    Strange comment??

    Just to be clear I have far more principles and convictions than to jump on any passing bandwagon that takes my fancy just because things don’t go my way……….no way would I have ever jumped ship with him but out of a perverted sense of loyalty would have advised him to make sure he had closed all the web sites, blog and Facebook. Unlike the amateurs who are advising him now……

  • Rabi @69

    I don’t get your point and I think you’ve misunderstood mine.

    In case of doubt, I campaigned for Meral’s selection as GLA candidate in London NE and am now working with her on her campaign. She is an excellent candidate.

    As a woman candidate in a key seat, I’m proud I won selection over strong male candidates each time; unlike my Labour rival who had an all-women shortlist.

    I would not expect anyone to vote for me just because I’m a woman; and I don’t want Lib Dem candidates of any colour who are not totally committed to this party.

    Luckily there is no shortage of excellent BEM talent. The reason I’m late posting tonight is that I was out at an event with friends, including women of Indian, Nigerian, and East African Asian origin, all of whom are Lib Dem councillors in Islington.

  • Helen Foster-Grime 27th Nov '07 - 12:42am

    To George Kaplan: You are clearly NOT aware of the facts surrounding Patsy Calton’s death. Patsy Calton, my dear late friend, was one of the most genuine, dedicated, kind, generous and hardworking people I have ever had the privilege to meet. She was truly a great lady. She dedicated her life to helping people regardless of their political beliefs or background. She would work 24/7 and keep pushing herself with great sacrifice and courage.

    People of all political parties loved and admired her for her selfless determination to help EVERYONE. Her qualities were rare. She was a liberal democrat in every sense. A woman of compassion, understanding and deep humanity, even for people who make rash judgements like you George. Patsy did not judge people.

    One day this special person knocked on my door – we soon became friends through our shared passion fighting for social justice and equality for all. She inspired me to join the Liberal Democrats and work tirelessly to follow her example treating everyone with compassion and understanding and rising above even the lowest of personal threats and abuse from the Conservatives.

    Patsy did not believe she would lose her fight against cancer. We, her close friends and colleagues did not believe she would lose her battle for life. Her determination to carry on to the very end, striving to help people, was the ultimate sacrifice.

    I wish you had had the opportunity to know Patsy, George, I am sure she may have touched your life too.

  • MatGB @95 and Alix @96 thanks ……was a long day yesterday and I think I may have missed subtlety of your point!!!

  • re Mr Kaplan @91 and Helen @98 re Patsy Calton and Cheadle.

    Patsy was asked directly by the BBC why she contested the 2005 election when she was so unwell.

    Her answer was: what message would it send to other cancer sufferers undergoing treatment if she stood down?

    Don’t know what Mr Caplan does for a living, but if he suffered cancer would he give up his profession? No, and nor did Patsy.

    I cannot claim to have known Patsy well, but I did help in the 2001 GE, again in 2005, and at the by-election.

  • George Kaplan 27th Nov '07 - 5:15pm

    Right, it seems I have sparked debate which I shall try to answer:

    As for my spelling: I typed this and all my messages without the benefit of a spell-check, but kudos to you for maing fun of someone with dyslexia. Aside from being utterly irrelevant and below the belt (just like most Lib Dem policy).

    Tp angus: Who even said I was a Tory? As it happens I am NOT a member of the Tory party (although I have voted for them before, just as I have for the Lib Dems), nice of you to jump to conclusions!

    And with regard to your comment about being ‘soft on drugs’, Liberal Democrat policy is very much not hardline. My own stance on drugs is not to surrender and say ‘well, if it’s gonna happen anyway!’ but to keep fighting. My own views on drusg (which I have never taken) comes from reading about the sincere regret countries such as Portugal have expressed about legalising drugs, seeing what they have done to my friends and a visit to Amsterdam when I was 18! I am very hardline on drugs.

    As for my remarks about Patsy Calton, I apologise for any offence caused to people who knew her. I never met her and I’m sure she was a very kind woman and determined to fight on against her illness. But let’s be honest, anyone who has seen a loved on with cancer knows that they can go from being seemingly fit and healthy to critically ill and then dying within a few short months.

    Now, for crewegwyn’s point, which is indeed a good one, I really don’t think it would send out the wrong message at all; If I was told my MP was standing down at the next election because they were suffering with cancer, I (having seen a family member die from the disease) would understand, because that is the grim fact of life, cancer kills, it sucks but its true.

    I find it courageous and inspiring that she was so determined to fight on in 2005. However it speaks volumes about the Liberal Democrat hierarchy that no one stepped in had a polite word with her how they wanted someone to stand in her place as – at the time of her nomination- she was critically ill already. In short, the Lib Dem powers that be, knew that she was going to die very soon after the election and approved her as their candidate anyway for fearing of losing such a marginal seat without her.

    They made a mockery of the electoral process by approving her selection when they knew she would not last more than a couple of months.

  • Mr Kaplan @101:

    My respect for your willingness to apologise.

    But I fear you are still missing the point re Patsy’s decision to contest the 2005 election.

    She had fought (and beaten off) cancer prior to the 2001 election. Her courage was inspirational. Then she fell ill again prior to 2005. I have no idea what prognosis was given to her – it was, and remains, none of my business, nor (with all due respect) yours. For the party grandees – whoever they may be – to have had a “polite word … how they wanted someone to stand in her place” is ludicrous for several reasons.

    Your comment that “cancer kills” is true, but incomplete – many people survive living productive lives for years with various cancers.

    “They knew she would not last more than a couple of months” – what evidence do you have for such a remark? Strange as it may seem even we wicked Lib Dems don’t have access to our candidates confidential medical records!

  • Hywel Morgan 27th Nov '07 - 5:55pm

    George Kaplan seems to imagine a scenario something like:

    “Patsy, we know you want to stand again but we really don’t think you should”

    “Yeah – that’s a good point. OK I won’t stand again”

    Just strikes me as a bit unlikely really 🙂

    Whatever else her constituents re-elected her in pretty full knowledge of her state of health. If anything the by-election “strategy” was the more risky option than having a new candidate in 2005.

  • Dominic Hannigan 27th Nov '07 - 6:11pm

    This is complete rubbish. I cannot beleive we are even responding to this. In Post 101, George Kaplin may be backtracking massively, but he has made some pretty offensive comments and I don’t think we should respond.

    At best Mr Kaplin, you have massive misjudgments and a lack of empathy and humanity, at worst, you are thoroughly unpleasant.

    Lets draw a line now and not respond to him anymore.

  • Richard Church @ 88:

    I’ll take that you will use this opportunity then to condemn Bill Newton Dunn then for refusing to resign? What about all the rest – we could go all the back to the SDP?

    Why do I doubt it?

  • George Kaplan 27th Nov '07 - 7:30pm


    My thanks for your politeness. As I said, I am fully aware that people have fought oiff cancer successfully against the odds, however, as nomination papers are turned in less than a month before a General Election, by which point Patsy was critically ill, so I don’t think your point about the powers that be not having having access to her medical records is valid. They knew and went ahead anyway.

    Hywel: The Liberal Democrats are renound for their ability at by-elections (see Brent East for shock gains, this summer’s events in Ealing and Sedgefield and the near gain in Bromley in 2006). While other parties bring in volunteers from elsewhere, Lib Dems are famous for some keen volunteer offering their longe floor for the troops to camp down on for three weeks to deliver 18 pieces of literature in 14 days.

    The hyerarchy could and should have de-selected her (as the other major parties have done and Labour have done to my sitting MP) on the grounds that she had next to no chance of survivng even close to a full term. She was only allowed to stand again so that the Lib Dems could hold the seat against the Conservatives who would be busy trying to fight Labour but in a by-election (where the Tories have not done well since the Thatcher years) it would be much easier.

    Dominic: I agree, we have got sidetracked, my point was to express my disgust at the tyical brand of Lib Dem hypocracy, like demanding an MEP who defects stand down when they welcome all Labour/Tory defectors with open arms. Or claim that he could only defect for career gains rather but any defectors to the Lib Dems do it for moral reasons. Add this to the usual cocktail of Lib Dem lies and you can understand why your party makes my blood boil, not for policy, but for your lying (see ANY Focus leaflet for evidence).

  • 106. “…he could only defect for career gains rather but any defectors to the Lib Dems do it for moral reasons.”

    There is an element of truth in this, and I have been critical here in the past over the prominence we give to defectors, particularly in LibDem News. However, the fact remains that Bill Newton Dunn did switch to the Lib Dems because he had a fundamental problem with Tory policy on Europe, a policy which has been anything but consistent over the years, whereas Saj Karim does not appear to have had any particular gripe with the Lib Dems over policy.

  • Richard Church 28th Nov '07 - 9:08am

    A word of advice Mr Kaplan. When you are in a hole, stop digging.

    You can hate the Lib Dems all you like. You can think we are lying pond life if you like.
    Trouble is, you have made a particularly tasteless and offensive assertion for which you have only made a partial apology. Such a remark simply negates any claim you make about Lib Dem tactics.

    Oh, by the way, the by-election following Patsy’s death was one of the nastier examples from any party of offensive campaigning, and the people doing it were not the Lib Dems, it was the Tories.

  • Tony Greaves 28th Nov '07 - 2:47pm

    Someone a long way up this thread said: “Sajjad Karim was a conviction Tory before he was a Lib Dem councillor or MEP.”

    Not true. He delivered leaflets for John Lee (then Tory MP now LD peer – “we have now both seen the light” – SK) at the age of seven – his father was a Tory member. He decided he was not a Tory once he started to think about things in his teens. He was a LD councillor in his early 20s. If he is now a conviction Tory (we all wait to find out) it is a very recent conversion.

  • passing tory 29th Nov '07 - 10:53am

    But then he became a Lib Dem of Convenience. And now he’s back to being a Conservative of Convenience. Now that Blair and Brown have caused Cameron to soften them up a little.

    And how many people became “Labour supporters of convenience” after Thatcher and Major had “softened them up a bit”? It really is incredible that the person that forced Labour back into the real world was John “the enforcer” Major. Not a great indictment of Labour in the 1980s, methinks.

    Or maybe no-one in the centre of Labour had bothered to tell the rank and file that they had been shifted? After all, information flow seems pretty selective at the top end of the Labour party 🙂

  • Geoffrey Payne 29th Nov '07 - 11:27am

    Chris – what you are saying is that you do not know what you are talking about. I would have thought that given that is the case, you are better off not saying anything at all.
    You are purely guessing about what Sajj thought in the past, you have no quotations from him and no evidence to support your innuendo.
    Political defections are a fact of life and happen in all directions, and that is fair enough. People change and parties change.
    Since I joined the Liberal party in 1983, I have seen the Liberal party, the SDP and it’s successor the Liberal Democrats become a net beneficiary of political defections, notably from the Labour party.
    So although it is disappointing to see someone go, the case of one individual says little in the overall scheme of things, particularly given we will soon have a new leader coming soon.

  • A Labour Party that parades around the likes of former arch Thatcherite, Quentin Davies as a Labour supporter is having a laugh!

  • On the principle of defections I have – for many years – held a very firm view.

    A. I have no problem with people changing party affiliation. I have done it myself. I have sent Saj a message wishing him well in his new setting (but also asking why, so recently, he was asking for my vote as a Lib Dem MEP hopeful). I cringe at the usual line (adopted by ALL parties) – a defection towards “us” is a show of principle; a defection away from “us” is evidence of mendacity, careerism, political opportunism, mental instability etc.

    B. BUT, where elected members defect I believe they should offer themselves to the electorate under their new “colours” within a reasonable period – my suggestion would be 6 months. Of course, there may be particular circumstances where this would be silly: an imminent election anyway, or specific policy issues. This has been my view going right back to the early 1980s and the dear old SDP (remember them?). The curse of party lists introduces a new element of course.

  • Well who can blame him really? As someone who felt thoroughly disenfranchised by the Euro candidate selection process and failed to get any adequate feedback, I can somewhat empathise.

  • On related news: Party members foil poll plot

  • Lancastrian 14th May '08 - 6:01pm

    Could i say that Sajjad Karim’s farther was a conservative councillor so naturally as a young child he used to help his farther with leaflet posting and campaigns. He also used to help with campaigns with the then Tory MP Rt Hon Jhon Lee. So he was a tory before being a lib dem. The majority of the asian population in Pendle were tories until 1992/93 when due to differences the Asians walked out and joined the lib dems because this was the only party that appealed to them. Now years since being part of the lib dems and regaining control of Pendle Council for them nothing was being done for the ethnic minorities and nationally they were under represented as the lib dems party members and hierarchy did not feel comfortable in allowing the ethnic minorities to run in marginal seats. Although at the last general election having the most non-white candidates compared with the other two main political parties the seats offered were ones that could never be won. Yet the ethnic minority prospective candidates gained alot of votes. For instance in Pendle previous white lib dem candidates gained between 5000-6000 votes but in 2005 Shezad Anwar gained over 9000 votes just 5k less than the Labour sitting MP. So indeed the lib dems are no longer a force that is challenging in UK politics. As they undermine and take for granted the importance of the non-white communities.

  • Irfan, a blog on a par with those on your site. Stop obsessing and move on. This anally retentive view is pretty poor.

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