Home Gloucester Gloucester Lib Dem Councillor “sees Red” and defects to the Labour Party

Gloucester Lib Dem Councillor “sees Red” and defects to the Labour Party

by Barry
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When Lib Dem Councillors defected to Labour in the early days of the Coalition, many said that we would not see that happening in Gloucester.  This was reaffirmed at the last local Elections when the Lib Dems stayed as the main opposition.  However it seems that not all is as rosy it appears in the Lib Dem ranks as a senior Lib Dem Councillor, Usman Bhaimia, has “seen red” with the approach of the Lib Dems in Government and come to join the Labour Party. 

Usman was first elected to the Barton & Tredworth ward in 2004, and is well-respected for his engagement with the community and I think it is because of this “grass-roots” representation that he has decided that the Liberal Democrats is no longer aligned with his own views.  I have a lot of respect for someone who decides to shift party, especially if you are in an elected position.  It takes a lot of guts to do such a thing, knowing just how much press involvement there will be and no doubt the local Lib Dems will be quick to crucify him, in public, in council and behind closed doors.  In fact, Jeremy Hilton has already taken it as a personal attack when he said “It is sad that Usman should announce his defection to the press without first letting me know. Especially, as I spent many an hour in 2008 knocking on doors in his ward to help him get re-elected. I do know that Usman has also spoken to Respect about joining them as well. He seems to have lost his political soul and now is happy to sing the tune of Labour, despite being such a strong opponent of many Labour policies and most of all the War in Iraq.”   It seems that while Jeremy is quick to say that he thinks Usman was looking at other parties, he is missing the real point, in that he has a number of Party members who are deeply uncomfortable with the current position and the fact that one of his senior Councillors was looking for a new party at all should have set alarm bells ringing for him.

So in summary, I would like to extend my welcome to Usmanand I hope that he feels much more comfortable in his new political home, and I look forward to working with him in the future.

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Joe K November 9, 2011 - 12:29 pm

I first heard Bhaimia was defecting two weeks ago, during a conversation on Stratton Road, so I don’t know why Jeremy Hilton was kept in the dark.

Is he up for the next council elections? It’s seemed like an age since we had the opportunity to ‘have our say’ about his performance, but I expect he thinks he has a better chance of winning if he can criticise government cuts than by defending them.

I wonder if those mysterious TiG supporters, the browns and the edwards, will stick with him?

Barry November 9, 2011 - 1:02 pm

Interesting that you heard it that early, but I guess in the commnity that is at the heart of the issue these type of things have a habit of getting out.

Yes, Usman is up in the next elections in May, and you are right, it will be interesting to see if his supporters will follow him or stay with the Party, I guess we will find out in May.

Declan Wilson (Lib Dem Cllr Hucclecote) November 9, 2011 - 7:11 pm

We are not all in politics to do what is comfortable but to do what is right. Usman has clearly decided it’s not worth the fight. I disagree. The rest of us will continue the fight, sadly without him. Joining the coalition was the right thing to then and still is now. Yes it’s not comfortable but it was never meant to be.

Joe K November 9, 2011 - 11:28 pm

That’s one way of looking at it, Barry. The other would be that if Usman decided to cross over more than two weeks back, but never told Jeremy, it should give Labour some idea of what they’re taking on.

Kind of the way you can never quite trust someone who chats on their husband/wife with you, then marries you.

Still, I mentioned this story on the Lib Dems Facebook page, and Andy Williams has deleted my post (not for the first time). Note to self: don’t expect any better from a Liberal Democrat in Gloucester…

Joe K November 9, 2011 - 11:32 pm

Oops, ‘cheats’ (‘pected churneig’, what kind of a reCAPCHA is that?).

Barry November 10, 2011 - 7:26 am

Declan, thank you for contributing, yours is a far more “insightful” comment on this than I have seen from others.

Joe, in reality this has been in discussion for a bit longer than 2 weeks, but has deliberately been kept quiet so Usman could really evaluate his options and come to his own decision without any public pressure. No matter what party your going from and to, this action is a huge decision for an individual and it was only right that it is an individual decision.

Joe K November 11, 2011 - 9:29 am

Gods, we certainly wouldn’t want the person Barton & Tredworth residents elected as a representative to feel any kind of public pressure.

And Usman Bhaimia has never shown any sign of caring about what we think, anyway.


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