Just posted today was a report from the Southend Echo titled: “A FORMER Labour mayor of Southend has defected… to the Tories”. It begins: “Kursaal ward councillor Judith McMahon has joined the Conservative group on Southend Council, giving hem a majority of eight. The councillor crossed the floor to join the Blues after resigning from the Reds in May. At the time of her resignation she sited a disillusionment with Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. News of her defection was greeted with dismay by the Labour group”. As a friend, my inclination is to allow Judith time and space to make her statement as to why, believing there to be a lot more behind the defection than has been reported.
However, as a political / cultural commentator, I feel I should weigh in with a view, even if not a fully rounded one given I do not know all the facts, noting there has been criticism, some of it in my view unfair. I have known Judith for a long time and despite her faults and foibles (which we all have) I have found her to be honorable and one who has given sterling service to this town, which was evidenced in her time as mayor, which ended in May as well as championing the concerns of the many who live in the deprived ward she represents. I have no doubt there have been factors in her decision beyond mere “disillusionment with Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party” and I quite get the pragmatism of joining a rival party rather than continuing as an Independent, realizing most aren’t pucker Independents anyway. My spies tell me she has upset been upset by colleagues in the Labour party, and while I refuse to take sides I get it if she no longer feels welcome in the party and suspect she will now not have “keep the red flag flying” at her funeral. I have to confess though despite seeing many strange things in the world of politics, her decision did surprise me if for no other reason that I had her card marked clearly as RED as opposed to BLUE, and I for one would to hear why from the horses mouth.
Unless I am missing something, methinks she owes an explanation to those who voted for her because she was a Labour candidate and now given she has changed her political allegiance she should stand at the next opportunity. Checking up (and it was easy to do) I found she was elected to serve again as Councillor on the Kursaal Ward, in May 2015, strangely enough fairly comfortably seeing off three formidable and worthy rival candidates who I know and who I reckon could have served well if elected, but demonstrating that she was well thought off in that ward. That means she is not due for re-election until May 2019. But before that are the May 2018 elections. While I quite get it that party politics usually have relatively little to do with serving as a councillor, especially good ones like Judith, she should re-stand at the earliest opportunity, given the circumstances. I hope she does and I have even bet a friend a pint that she does 🙂
Update 28/09/17: Today’s Echo contains a story titled: “Labour defector Judith: ‘Why I swapped Reds for the Blues’”, which recounts that “A FORMER Labour councillor has told how the Conservative’s “balanced and comprehensive approach” led her to swap Red for Blue”. While the explanation given may not satisfy some Labour stalwarts / voters who feel let down and some Council watchers who feel bemused over the actions of one who “has made her career out of attacking the Conservative Party“, I welcome the statement, even though it has a hollow ring, but feel now it is the time to move on, for all to adjust to the new paradigm and for Judith to continue to contribute. I hope though she will stand, this time as a Conservative, at the next opportunity, as this is the normal practice for those who change parties mid term and is the right thing to do, but fear she won’t be prepared to take that risk.