Lib Dem councillor defects to Labour

Julie Dore welcomes Ben Curran to Sheffield's Labour Group

Walkley councillor Ben Curran has defected from the city’s Lib Dem group to the Labour group, branding his former party’s reasons for cancelling the Forgemasters loan “a pack of lies”.

This leaves the Liberal Democrats with only 41 councillors, meaning a combination of Labour’s 39 and Greens’ 2 councillors could vote down Lib Dem motions and amendments.

Cllr Curran, who had been an advisor to Lib Dem deputy leader Cllr David Baker, said it had not been an easy decision, but that he felt he had “no alternative but to leave the Liberal Democrats and join Labour.”

He said: “I was bitterly disappointed with where the party was going nationally with Nick Clegg and I was also left disillusioned with the lack of resistance shown by the Lib Dems locally with all the savage cuts that have hit this city.

“The disgraceful decision to cancel the Forgemasters loan is a case in point. As Sheffield Lib Dem Councillors, we were asked to defend what turned out to be a completely unjustifiable decision and it soon transpired that all the reasons in favour of cancelling the loan were just a pack of lies.

“My personal values haven’t changed but the political landscape has. It is clear to me that Labour offers the only genuine progressive future for both Sheffield and Britain today.”

Paul Scriven, leader of Sheffield council said: “Clearly this has come as a real surprise to us as Ben hasn’t spoken to me or anyone else in the Group to let us know he was thinking of resigning, let alone defecting. He was only elected in May and just a couple of weeks ago he gave a speech in the Council chamber deriding Labour’s record.

“Obviously this is a personal decision for Ben, but it’s clear that the move has been orchestrated given that it is on the eve of our national conference in Liverpool. I find it hard to understand how he could have joined a party that has pledged to take money away from the area he represents, took us into an illegal war in Iraq and has bankrupted the entire country.”

Sheffield Labour Group’s new leader Julie Dore welcomed the defection. She said: “The doors are wide open for any other Lib Dems who feel uneasy with the Tory-led Coalition and who are sick to death of these spiteful cuts, which are being made too far, too fast and hitting the most vulnerable hardest.”

Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central, which includes the Walkley Ward, said: “I know what a difficult decision this has been for Ben. Like many Lib Dem supporters in Sheffield he was deeply distressed by the way that the party has changed under Nick Clegg’s leadership, especially since joining the Tories in Government. I welcome him to Labour and I’m looking forward to working with him in Walkley ward in my constituency.”

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8 responses to “Lib Dem councillor defects to Labour

  1. So Ben said nasty things about a political party, then joined up with the same party to help them achieve their aims, at the same time securing for himself a bit of publicity and a boost to his public profile.

    How unlike the home life of our own dear MP.

    (In Sheffield Hallam anyway).

  2. Honestly, I’m not surprised that he was making anti-Labour speeches right up until switching. It’s not unusual for people on the very edge of losing their religious faith to go out of their way to evangelise either. I guess it’s the problem with “fake it ’til you make it” – if you find you just can’t make it, then you end up looking like a prat.

    More to the point, a lot of us who voted Lib Dem in May, in the belief that at the very least they would rein in the worst Tory ambitions, and have watched in horror as they have essentially pulled the coalition to the right, know exactly how Ben Curran must be feeling at this point. I know I do; I put my membership card through the shredder last week, having finally had enough. Will I go as far as to join Labour? A lot depends on who wins the leadership election, and whether they move the party back towards a relatively libertarian centre-left position.

  3. Many Sheffield Lib Dems have spent their lives fighting the Tories and hate what they are doing.
    I think this is probably the first of quite a few in Sheffield.

  4. Well done Ben Curran for standing up against what this lib dem council and ConDem govenment is doing I think people in the Lib Dem leadership wheather on Sheffield City Council through Paul Scriven or Nick Clegg Nationally need to realise alot of Lib dems dint join to get in Bed with the tories. The unfair actions on the council punishing vunerable and young people is not liberalism its unjust and ConDem been soft on Banks and very hard on the poorest is not what alot of lib dems joined the party to do.
    Well Done Ben again. I hope theres more lib dems who are progressive your welcome to come over to labour there is an alternative with us.

  5. Oh Labour are so holy, aren’t they? Under their watch they would never leave the country needing £150bn of spending cuts and tax rises to balance the books. Oh wait, they just did.

    If Ben was as angry about the cuts as I am, he wouldn’t have joined the party that gave us a budget deficit of £150bn.

    The real “pack of lies” here is the suggestion that Labour could have done any different. But prove me wrong. Put up an alternative budget, nationally or in Sheffield. Put up or shut up.

  6. Would Curran have won his seat if he’d stood as a Labour candidate?

    If the councillor wants to pursue a different set of policies to the ones he was elected to enact he should resign and force a by-election. His defection reveals him to be an opportunist and a coward.

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