Another defector to the Tories - Do the Tories set any standards on who they will have ?

Of course it is nice for any political party to be a "broad church", but are we really to believe that the Tories accepting a defector from the Socialist Workers Party is anything but expediency ?

A few months ago Saj Karrim, a Lib Dem MEP who had effectively been de-selected by the Lib Dems when he was placed second on the party list, meaning he was extremely likely to lose his seat, defected to the Tories in what was meant to be a trail of glory and publicity for the Tories. As it was it made few headlines with more coverage given to the way Mr Karrim sacked his staff by text message.

Now, the Tories have taken in a former member of George Galloway's "Respect", in Tower Hamlets, and what is somewhat shocking was that this councillor is a member of the Socialist Workers party who has a record of voting against Tory motions on the council.

I am grateful to Justin Hinchcliffe for sending me the extract below by e-mail which appears to be a from a local paper article about the defection.

A RESPECT councillor, former ally of George Galloway and member of the Socialist Workers Party has dramatically defected to the Tories in what is being seen a major milestone in Tower Hamlets politics.

Ahmed Hussain, who represents Mile End East at the Town Hall, met the Tories' shadow London minister, Bob Neill, and Tower Hamlets group leader Peter Golds to seal the move this morning (Wednesday). He becomes the local party's first ever Bengali councillor and in doing so he has made the Tories, who less than two years ago boasted just one councillor in Tower Hamlets, the authority's official opposition with eight members.

Mr Neill welcomed the defection as "momentous" and predicted that Tower Hamlets could soon become 'a Tory borough.'"It's a real step forward for the party and the area," he added.Cllr Hussain, who was also being courted by Labour recently, said he had been interested by Tory Leader David Cameron's approach.He added: "I really believe Tower Hamlets Conservatives will continue to make a difference in this borough."But political rivals will be dismayed and think Cllr Hussain's reputation will now lie in tatters.

The former Labour supporter was one of MP George Galloway's '12 Bengali tigers' elected as a Respect councillor in 2006, and has voted against Conservative motions at the Town Hall since.He was one of four councillors to split from Galloway's Respect faction in October and remained a prominent member of the MP's bitter enemies, the SWP.Soon after that split, he instigated exploratory talks with the Lib Dems about forming a coalition with the Respect rebels.But since the failure of those discussions, all four councillors have been weighing up their futures as all parties tried to tempt them to their sides.


Anonymous said...

They'd probably take you too Nick !

Anonymous said...

To say I was surprised is an understatement! But we'll see how it goes.

Certainly the Lib Dems have taken some strange characters in over the years...

faceless said...

I'd never usually comment on spelling, but it seems there's some serious drunkenese going on in that post!

Tinter said...

He wouldn't be SWP, he would be a local communalist, plenty of whom can be found in all parties.
I don't like these posts I see all too regularly slamming other parties for accepting poor defectors. Guess what? We do, and we have respect defectors in our ranks (and the have some former lib dem councillors, I believe).
Unless people start calling equally vocally to kick out or refuse entry to those who we currently accept despite them clearly having no commitment to our political position, then it all rings hollow indeed.

asquith said...

No one should bat an eyelid over this. It's well known that no one likes a defector; apart from the fact that he isn't trusted by the party he joins, he instantly goes down in the estimation of everyone else. What do you think Quentin Davis and Saj Karrim are thinking now? :)

Anonymous said...

Does sound a bit odd. Can someone reject socialism overnight?!

Norfolk Blogger said...

Actually tinter, I am consistent on not likeind defections of elected represenetatives. I personally believe if you are elected you should stand down if you defect and seek re-election, and I will remain consistent on this matter, so there is no hypocrisy on my part.

I have been involved in gettin gpeople to "switch" to the Lib Dems in the past, but in each case it has been when someone has not been a councillor.

We had an interesting situation about two years ago when the Tories in North Norfolk were sure one of our councillors wanted to defect to them. They even minuted it in their group meeting minutes that the tories should be "extra nice to her" in order to make her switch. Interestingly when I showed her the minutes (it's funny how some Tories used to put things in my council pigeon hole) she actualy felt insulted that they had seen her genuine non partisan friendliness as a wish to defect. She remains a Lib Dem still to this day.

Anonymous said...


"Abjol Miah and George Galloway respond to news of SWP/Respect councillor defecting to Tories"


Paula said...

Saj Karim wasn't effectively deselected. He won the second place on the list which is the place he was in for the previous election. We had, and still have, every intention of campaigning to get at least the top two on our list elected.

Tinter said...

When respect split, our local people were helping at the press conference held by the little group he is defecting from. I didn't notice any outrage from anyone at our obvious wooing of them.
Further, blogs slam defections to other parties, while when other blogs herald us gaining defectors I do not see similar criticism. I'm not speaking only about you here, although its not so long ago I recall lib dem voice welcoming a respect defector of our own.
Its great that you hold a principled stand in real life, but it doesn't carry through into blogging; and many who don't hold that view do act hypocritically.

James Schneider said...

As Paula said above Saj was not de-selected. Its very unfair to say that of him.
I can't believe Bob Neill okayed this move. It sounds absolutely absurd and shows the baseness of much of Tower Hamlet politics. They'll join any party to save their careers. Not very democratic. I bet there are some angry Thatcherites tonight.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Actually James and Paula, but it is a deselection.

The number of MEP's in the North West is being cut, making it more unlikely that a second Lib Dem would be elected. however, there is another element to this.

Saj karrim reportedly told people that if he was not put as number 1 on the lib Dem list, he would defect. the fact that he came 2nd must have given him a clear message.