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Another Lib Dem defection?

From Paul Clarke

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

As I looked through the nominations for the Town Council election I noticed one Lesley Jones standing as an Independent in Fairfield.

Can anyone confirm that is the same Lesley Jones who was a Lib Dem councillor? Now even in the surreal world of HB politics you can't be in a political party and also stand as an independent.

From the little I know of Lesley (if indeed it is the same person) it's certainly not her style to mislead the voters. So perhaps someone can enlighten us if she has left the bosum of a party with less than 10% of the vote.

Has she taken the same route as Councillor O'whatisname who said he jumped ship over the lies told by the Fibs over tutition fees?

If this carries on it'll soon be a case of will the last Fib Dem in Calder please turn out the lights.

From James Baker

Thursday, 7 April 2011

We have a good relationship with Lesley, but she has decided to stand as an independent candidate. The local branch voted not to stand a candidate against her.

Also note that Catherine Groves also standing in Fairfield, is no longer standing as a Labour candidate. So both parties fighting the ward have former Councillors standing as independents. Labour have though stood someone up against her.

I don't think this represents anything particular about either party other than the general truth that sometimes Councillors decide they would rather stand as independents.

It's a shame Labour were not able to field candidates in all of the wards up for contest. As a result myself, Tony Hodgins & Jason Alison have all been elected to White Lee. Tony and I had started a survey to find out what priorities people had, and we will continue this. Both Tony and I are new to being Councillors, but hope to be able to serve the community well together.


Councillor 'O'whatisnam' was up for re-election this year but wasn't selected to stand as a candidate. It was then he decided to leave the party citing principles.

From Paul Clarke

Saturday, 9 April 2011

James, many thanks for your fascinating answer but as you start your political career I hope it will be with a straight answer to a straight question.

Is Cllr Jones still a Lib Dem member? Yes or no?

I don't speak for the Labour party but my understanding is that Cllr Groves is no longer a party member. Therefore there is no doubt she is independent and as a political newbie you probably don't Labour always stands against people who have left and we don't give them a clear run like your party has in Fairfield.

Remember when Red Ken ran as an independent Labour campaigned hard against him and lost but it was the right thing to do as is the decsion to stand three Labour candidates in fairfield.

I think your decision could undermine Cllr Jones crediblity as an independent candidate as she should be tested on the same criteria as any other politican. I am assuming that the Lib Dem candidates will making it clear on their leaflets that you are not standing against her because you have a 'good relationship' with a former colleague. I also wonder why you didn't extend the same courtesy to Cllr Groves?

I'm also assuming Cllr Jones was unaware of this decision and hadn't been informed of your decision.

I have nothing against independents but they must be people who are not members of other parties and neither should the mainstream parties decide behind closed doors not to stand against them without it being made crystal clear to the electrorate.

As for Cllr Whatisname I was actually more shocked that he was still on the council as I thought he had stepped down years ago rather than saying he was defecting cos of Clegg's lies over grants.

From Lesley Jones

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Thanks James.  You have got it in one.  Yes Paul - I am the one and the same Lesley Jones.  Although I have really appreciated the support the Liberal Democrats have given me over the last four years, I have become more and more aware that I need to be true to my local roots rather than be driven by party policies, of whatever colour.   At this very local level, I believe that decisions should be made based on what is best for the community, taking into account feedback from and knowledge of that community, rather than being driven by party policy or direction.  So the truth is, as James says - it doesn't mean anything other than the fact that sometimes Councillors, past, present and future, do simply decide that they would rather stand as Independents in order to be able to work in the way that they feel is more true to their own values.

From Susan Press

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The election in Fairfield will certainly be interesting with seven candidates standing for three places.

Labour is standing three candidates who we hope people will vote for because we really are true to our values and our roots not just locally but nationally and therefore could not stand as "Independents".

Of course all candidates no doubt wish to serve their communities as best they can but it is disingenuous to suggest that can be separated from party politics - however well-intentioned people may be.

The fact Calderdale are aiming to offload the Picture House and Calder Homes Park onto the Town Council to sort out is not an act of altruism - but a reflection of the desperate cuts which are being made all over the UK thanks to this appalling Coalition Govt.

Whatever local Liberal Democrats might like to pretend, their allegiance to a party currently scrapping EMA and trebling tuition fees, ending security of tenure for council tenants and dismantling the NHS is likely to impact on their votes.

Such was the case for us in the Blair years, when we got hammered because of Iraq, despite local opposition (including our MP's) to the war.
The difference was we still had a redistributive Chancellor who oversaw the minimum wage, tax credits and SureStart, child trust funds . . . and much that we could be proud of.

From James Baker

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

It's my understanding Paul that Lesley is still a party member. Although I'm not the membership secretary. Most parties elect candidates and make decisions on where to stand candidates internally through their own democratic methods. I don't think there is anything underhand or shady about this.

Members of parties do sometimes still stand as independents. Take for instance Liam Burns who was recently elected as the NUS president. He is a Labour party member who made a choice to stand as an independent. I don't think there is anything wrong with this, it's a personal choice.

Susan, the cuts are a sad reality of the global economic situation. That economic situation wasn't the fault of the coalition, nor like some do I think Labour is to blame for everything. No one enters politics wanting to make cuts that cost people their jobs. My girlfriend is struggling to find work, and I have had a pay freeze and reduced hours, so I know how difficult it is at the moment.

I can understand that most Labour candidates want to make a show of opposing cuts, but locally they can have little impact. I don't things would have been drastically different under a Labour government, as Darling proposed £14Bn cuts as opposed to Osbornes' £16Bn. I would like to see a bit more of a serious discussion from Labour as to what they would have cut if in power.

On Hebden Royd there have been no redundancies amongst the three staff the council employs. On Calderdale the Lib Dems have been working hard with our labour colleagues and (with regret) had to shed over 200 jobs rather than the 1,000 that were predicted back in October. We have no sure start centres closing, no libraries closing and no swimming pools closing. I'm proud to be part of a party that has done so much locally to mitigate the impact of the financial crisis.


From Paul Clarke

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Dear god...even by the Fib Dem's casual relationship with the truth (see student loans)we are through the looking glass in Fairfield.

So assuming Lesley is still a Lib Dem member - and she hasn't said she isn't - let's see if I have this right:

We have a candidate who says she is an independent.

Then we find she may still actually be a member of the party that she represented for the previous four years on the town council before declaring she is now an independent.

Then we find that the Lib Dems have behind closed doors decided not to stand against an independent who they say have 'a good relationship with.'

But it appears that the relationship is that they all in the same party but only some are standing as Fib Dems.

This is where it gets confusing because I don't think you can be an independent candidate and a member of a political party. That also includes the idiot student who also tried to have it both ways like the Fibs.

So as a Fairfield voter at the moment it seems there is only one genuine independent.

Of course this all becomes clearer if Cllr Jones confirms she is longer a Lib Dem and confirms the date she resigned from the party.

If she does then she becomes someone free from all political baggage and we the voters have a choice in terms of two clearly independent candidates as well as the party candidates.

I am also expecting when I get my Hocus Focus leaflet that among the usual half truths - and gormless pictures of candidates pointing at potholes - we will get a clear explanation why they decided to stand only three candidates. I'm interested in how they will explain this shabby backdoor deal to Fairfield voters and, in particular, why the other independent candidate didn't get a free run too.

Of course, I won't be holding my breath for a honest answer.

From John Gale

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

As one of the people involved in getting the skatepark extended and rebuilt, I was very surprised to see Susan Press claiming some credit for it on here in her Biog. The only town councillor who was with us the whole way, and still is today, is Lesley Jones.

She then goes on to say that Lesley is being "disingenous" (which is a clever journalistic way to say "lying") to stand as an independent candidate, just working directly for the locals of Hebden Bridge, and that she should belong to a political party.

Well, I've got news for Susan. Town councillors working directly for the people who elect them would make a GREAT change, rather than them bringing party political baggage to the job. People in this town are very independently-minded and I think they would welcome more candidates directly representing them, especially one with the determination and drive that Lesley Jones brings.

In fact, none of the political parties are really trusted that much round here after the last few years (neither are many journalists actually) so I reckon Susan may be very surprised at how much support Lesley (and any other Independents) get.

A candidate of the people, for the people. Good luck Lesley!

From Susan Press

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Perhaps the difference between "Independents" and those of us who have party political loyalties is that we work collectively.

So let's be clear. No-one - least of all me - claims individual credit for the skatepark extension or any other project in Hebden Royd.

But Labour - as a team - backed this all the way along with a raft of other initiatives including England's first-ever Environmental Street Warden, a Project Manager to progress investment, and funding projects from Dodnaze Community Association to Hebden Bridge Junior and Senior bands , World On Your Doorstep, HB Arts Festival, etc etc.

In Fairfield, the fact is that someone claiming to be an "Independent" is actually ( because no-one is denying it including Lesley) a member of the Liberal Democrats. I think that's misleading to the electorate.

If Lesley (who is a well-respected, hard-working councillor) wants to resign from her Party and stand as an Independent then fine.
If not, I would suggest you simply can't have it both ways.

From Graham Barker

Thursday, 14 April 2011

I know Lesley and think she's honest, caring, intelligent, knowledgeable and hard-working. Who cares whether she is or isn't currently a member of the Lib Dems? I'll bet those in Fairfield who feel that way outnumber those who share Paul's and Susan's embittered, Itchy & Scratchy view of politics.

I used to regard myself as a Labour supporter, but Labour Party posts on Hebweb are proving to be highly effective aversion therapy. If one thinks at all, one doesn't want or need to be told what to think. The petty sniping certainly isn't welcome.

From Lesley Jones

Thursday, 14 April 2011

For the avoidance of doubt and to put an end to the current speculation, as of earlier this year I ceased to be a member of the Liberal Democrat party. I resigned my membership in order to ensure that my independent status was not compromised in these forthcoming elections.

From Catherine Groves

Thursday, 14 April 2011

If anyone wants to know why I'm standing as an Independent this time please see the above

From James Baker

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Thanks for the clarification Lesley. Sorry to learn that you have left the party. That should be clear to everyone now, we have two independents standing in Fairfield both of whom have left their previous parties.

Paul I'm happy to give an explanation of why I think the local party branch made a democratic decision not to stand a candidate against Lesley in Fairfield. I think it's because local party members respect the great amount of work she has done for the local community and don't wish to compete against her seat.

The party also only fielded two candidates in White Lee (one of which was myself). Again a majority democratically decided not to stand a third candidate against the incumbent independent James Alison. I don't know why Labour didn't stand anyone in White Lee, I was rather looking forward to the competition to be truthful! Although I'm pleased I'll have a chance to contribute to the Council.

Paul you obviously harbour some serious animosity to the Lib Dems, or the 'Fib Dems' as you call us.

Still to set the record straight, there is nothing 'shady' about only standing two candidates in Fairfield. We of course want a strong Liberal Democrat team on the council but we also recognise that some independents with whom we have good working relationships contribute to the overall work of the council for the greater benefit of the electorate.

On a slight tangent and being new to the political scene in Hebden Bridge, one thing that has struck me is that there are no local Conservatives standing.

I know it's not a very Conservative area, but you think there would be one or two willing. Do none of them think it's important?


From Paul Clarke

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Lesley, thank you for clearing this up and you seem to be one of the few people who realise that is critical that people know exactly who and what they are voting for. I was never going to vote for you but at least all the Fairfield are finally clear that you aren't a member of a politcal party.

Instead of glib comments it might help us understand why Cllr Groves is standing as an independent if she actually bothered to submit an election address like the vast majority of the other candidates. As I'm writing this there is nothing on this site from her so I have no idea at all why she is standing as an independent and neither does anyone else who votes in Fairfield.

My, my Graham was quick to get the cheap shots in but I am insulted that he didn't say if he thought I was Itchy or Scratchy? But in fairness it is better to be one of those two than being the political version of Homer. It doesn't matter if an indepedant candidate is a member of a political party? Doh!

James, it is true I have no time for the Fib Dems as if one of you told me the sky was blue I'd nip outside and check. Of course you can prove me wrong when you point out that when you promised in student areas at the last election that you would abolish university fees that you stuck to that promise in government. Ah......

Dunno why Labour didn't stand a candidate in White Lee as you would have to ask them.

But you keep missing the point which is how will the Fib Dem Hocus Focus Team in Fairfield tell the electors that they are not standing against a candidate who was until recently a colleague. Your internal processes are your business but when it is not communicated to the electors then it becomes dishonest and shady. But what did I expect from your party?

I suppose the simple answer to your question about the Tories not standing is exactly the reason why you are not running a candidate against Lesley. Why do they need to stand against their politcal bedfellows who they have a very close relationship with as coalition partners? If people vote yellow they are getting blue so why should the local Tories bother to stand.

From Jane O'Hara

Thursday, 14 April 2011

As far as I am concerned Lesley Jones can stand for whoever she wants to. It's up to the voting public to decide who is the best candidate, and as somebody who has seen Lelsey in action she deserves every vote that she gets. She is genuine, committed, respected and hard working.

From Gary Rathbone

Friday, 15 April 2011

As a voter in the forthcoming election I find that national politics must surely take a back seat. I wish town councillors to address OUR local issues which should not compromise personal or party agendas.

I applaud those who sacrifice party politics for the benefit of the local community.

Why all the cross party political point scoring? Come on you councillors; impress the electorate, it is US that you will represent, its US that you will answer to! So give us a reason to vote for YOU!

The petty playground name calling - FibDems, ConDems etc - doesn't do anyone any favours, it just detracts from what any serious message you may have.

I welcome the influx of new blood, it is well overdue. However, there are excellent proven councillors who have achieved a great deal for our community, and there should be no shame in taking credit where it is due.

So, (potential) councillors, who gets my vote....

From Nigel Yorke

Monday, 18 April 2011

Gary - yes, well said. Lets put this to one side and get back to understanding the issues and concerns the people of area have. See this thread