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Call on Nader to resign and fight a by-election

From Cllr James Baker

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

I learnt yesterday that Nader Fekri has decided to quit the Lib Dems and join Labour. This came as a surprise as he had informed us all that he was resigning to move to Turkey, and that a by-election would be held. There had even been debates on Heb Web as to the timing of that election, with Labour calling on it to be held back in May.

It was clear from the time he was spending in Turkey that he wouldn't be able to serve as a local councillor - one example was his being in Turkey whilst Hebden Bridge flooded. Given how apparent it was Nader was not fulfilling his role as a Councillor we asked him to resign this month, in order that we could fight a by-election as soon as possible. Nader refused to resign.

Instead he has chosen to join the Labour party. We still think Nader should resign though. There are two reasons for this, firstly with Nader's family living in Turkey it is clear that he will be torn between Hebden Bridge and Turkey and unable to fulfil his commitments as a Councillor.

Secondly people elected a Lib Dem to represent them in Calder ward because of the party's strong track record locally. It isn't fair that someone can simply then change their colours if it means they can hang onto their allowance and improve their re-election chances.

From Stephen Curry

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

I whole heartedly agree with James Baker that Cllr Fekri should resign. However, I don't believe that he will, as I doubt the local Labour party would select him as their 'ideal' candidate. (Unless a pre transfer deal was done?) Much was said earlier in the year about Cllr Fekri moving to Turkey and that he was seeing out his responsibilities as CMBC Mayor before making his family his priority. From what James says, it would seem Cllr Fekri's stance now is more likely to be about rejecting the logic of his former LibDem colleagues, that he can't be an effective ward representative if he spends most of his time in Turkey, rather than some soul searching on his part about the LibDems national failings.

A by-election could be held at the same time as the Police Commissioner's election at minimum cost to the tax payer. So his argument of saving money doesn't hold up. In fact he should consider the value for money aspect of an us having an absentee Councillor.

Had Cllr Fekri been the most effective ward representative I'd experienced in my time here (rather than just a popular chappy) I would have said I don't care which party he belongs to, a good Councillor is a good Councillor. Unfortunately I have to say this is just a another case of a person joining a party they feel least uncomfortable with just to stay in post, get elected or in this case re-elected. It seems he has bought himself two years to show he can earn his allowances without Janet Battye covering for him.

I for one, will be watching the attendance records for both councils he sits on.

From Eleanor Land

Friday, 17 August 2012

I believe any Councillor or MP who decides to swop sides during their term should do the decent thing and call a by-election. Many people who voted for Councillor Fekri were voting for the Lib Dems, now he is no longer a Lib Dem he should face the electorate. I also believe that he cannot serve the interests of his electorate from Turkey. He should do the honourable thing and resign. I am not a supporter of the Lib Dems and never will be, but I can quite understand why the local Lib Dems are annoyed.

From David Greenwood

Friday, 17 August 2012

Should anyone be surprised at Cllr Fekri's display of self-interest, hypocrisy and political opportunism? When Labour were unelectable in the area he was a Lib Dem and now Lib Dem's are unelectable he's Labour. As stated elsewhere people voted for him because he was the Liberal Democrat candidate so if he had any principles of course he should resign. Of course he won't resign as he doesn't want to get his snout out of the trough. How embarrassing for the local Labour party to have welcomed with open arms someone with such little integrity, especially someone who has regularly attacked them in the past. No doubt this is why they've gone so quiet . . . or is it because Cllr Fekri is merely following in the footsteps of his Calderdale Labour leader Tim Swift, another Lib Dem who switched parties when it was politically expedient to do so?

From Dave M

Friday, 17 August 2012

I think in a local election people vote for the person not the party so Cllr Fekri should stay if he wants. I wasn't aware that he is living in Turkey as he is often to be seen around Hebden Bridge. It is a shame to see Nader's former friends sticking the knife in now but I guess the lesson is that one should always choose one's friends carefully.

The Lib Dem website Liberal Democrat Voice finds that 48% of members favour a pact with Labour after the next election as opposed to only 19% who want the party to side with the Tories again. The coalition is less that half way through its term so we can expect to see hundreds more defections before 2015. Perhaps those left behind will allow themselves to be swallowed up by the conservative party as it's probably their only chance of political survival. Having abandoned their principles the lib dem party is pretty irrelevant now.

From Rod H

Saturday, 18 August 2012

There will have been very many people around here and beyond that voted Lib Dem in the last General Election, whom thought they were voting for a centre-left progressive party but ended up with a strong brand of right wing government. It is about time that the centre left majority came together in this country- this political fracture has gone on long enough..

From Cllr Tim Swift

Sunday, 19 August 2012

In response to David Greenwood, some of us have not 'gone quiet' but have rather felt that most of the attacks on Nader in the last few days have not deserved a response.

In my experience, whenever someone moves from one party to another the disgruntled party usually demands that they stand down and force a byelection. When they are on the other side of such a change, they take a different view. In 30-odd years of political involvement and interest, I have to say the number of occasions when this has actually happened can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand.

As for his reference to myself 'switching parties when it was expedient to do so', I can only assume this is made in complete ignorance of the facts. Far from 'switching' in the way he suggests, I stood down from Calderdale Council in 1994; reflected for a year before deciding to join Labour in 1995; and did not stand for Council as a Labour candidate until 2003.

From Eleanor Land

Monday, 20 August 2012

A quick question for Councillor Swift. Do you understand why your electorate are querying how one of their representatives can represent them from Turkey? I would have thought it was obvious that they can't. On that fact alone Councillor Fekri should stand down.

From Jonathan Timbers

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

As Nader is finding out, what you get from Liberal Democrats when they feel threatened is bottom-of-the-barrel abuse and nastiness. As Tim pointed out, a posting has to merit a response to get one.

From Stephen Curry

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Cllr Swift is right to say that you can count the numbers on one hand, of the times a party politician calls a by-election when they turn coat. Yes the party who loses the member always calls for the resignation whist the recipient party stays quite, unable to justify their undemocratic stance. And that is one of the things that shows the total hypocrisy of party politics. They also ignore that the grievance in not just the losing party's, it is we the electorate who have been cheated!

If, as Cllr Swift says, he himself went through a reflective period and stood down before joining the Labour Party and seeking re-election (making him one of the few fingers he can count on his one hand) then perhaps he should be more influential and insist for the integrity of his own party and his leadership that Cllr Fekri should stand down 'spend some time with his family' and return when his switch of party has more credibility in the eyes of the electorate. But Cllr Swift won't do that in case he has to predict a Labour win in Calder Ward and it goes the way of his prediction for last May.

One thing Cllr Fekri stated was he "is the same person", so it follows that at local level regardless of which party one belongs to you should be able to represent the all of the electorate. So why do we need local politicians attaching themselves to national party politics anyway? Perhaps if he'd gone Independent there wouldn't be all this fuss? Don't forget party members are only 1.5% of the population, the rest of us 98.5% are independent of party politics. Generally they are elected because of the apathy of the majority, causes by? Yep Party Politics!


From Rev Tony Buglass

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

There is an assumption here that Nader is living in Turkey and trying to do his council business from there. His wife has a job in Turkey, the family have a home in Turkey - does he not also have a home in Hebden Bridge? Has he given up his own job and moved to be unemployed in Turkey? Or is he spending time living in both places?

Whatever we agree or disagree with in terms of his politics, Nader isn't a stupid man - I don't see him as someone daft enough to try to represent a community where he no longer lives, much less do it from another country on the edge of the continent. If he is around here enough to think he can still represent his ward and do his job as a councillor, that's fair enough - let's see whether it actually works. It can't be any more difficult than it is for all those worthies having to spend so much time at Westminster instead of in the communities they represent...

From Cllr James Baker

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Tony I'm not sure what Nader's arrangements are now. From what I have read in the paper, and his published resignation letter it seems that he is now intending to stay in Hebden Bridge and spend time visiting Turkey where his family live. If that's the case, I hope Nader is able to balance these two important committeemen's.

I don't wish Nader any ill as a person, and I have always got on with him. I'm grateful he helped me win the recent by-election in Warley. However I do think we deserved an explanation from him in person. Finding out via an email, or via reading it in the paper as some colleagues did is like being ditched via a letter! It left most Lib Dems in shock, angry, upset and questioning why. Although I can understand Nader was unhappy about the coalition, what he said about local politics led us all to think he would stay with the party.

I do still think people deserve a choice in whether they want to be represented by someone standing for a different manifesto, set of principles and party. I know that when people change parties that rarely happens, but it ought to. There was always the risk of seeming like sore losers in calling for a by-election, but the democratic principle of people having a say in the matter justifies such a call.

From Jonathan Timbers

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

I am pleased to see that Cllr Baker has had second thoughts and is now citing principle rather than abusing Nader. I welcome that, but can't help noting that the Liberal Democrats in Calderdale are in a complete mess - this is the second defection in less than two months. The first, Keith Hudson to the Tories, gave James Baker the opportunity he needed to win in Warley. Keith, I believe, became disillusioned with the Lib Dems policy on education and ability to claim credit for the work of others. He stepped down, of course, though partly I believe for personal reasons. Nader - the other person to defect - shares the dismay of many of us at the economic policies of the coalition which are butchering the life chances of young and old and destroying families, and has decided to stay on. I have always found him to be a charming and engaging man, with political views almost identical to my own. He is extremely able and I have always had the highest regard for him, and still do. I'm glad he is staying on as our councillor.

I hope when he comes up for re-election in 2014 the Lib Dems fight a clean campaign against him, remembering the many favours he has done for them. But I doubt it. They seem addicted to political potty talk.

From Cllr James Baker

Friday, 31 August 2012

Keith went through quite a difficult period of trying to decide where his politics lay. There were also some very strong personal reasons for his resigning as a Calderdale Councillor which are private.

Possibly he was upset about the things you mention, although he never expressed them to me. He is on the record though as having said one reason he joined the Conservatives was his unhappiness with Liberal Democrats for forming another coalition with Labour here in Calderdale.

So yes two people have left the party, but one cites us working too closely with Labour and another cites us working too closely with the Conservatives. Which probably puts us slap bang in the centre.

I don't think that the party is in disarray. The Lib Dems have for a long time been the third small party, and despite tacking flack over tough and unpopular decisions resulting from a global recession we are still winning elections. As we just did in Warley.

It's no secret wielding power in Westminster government results in you losing councillors. It happened to Labour between 1997-2010 and it is happening to the Lib Dems now. What's sad is that people vote down national lines (which formed much of Labour's local campaign here in Calderdale) rather than local issues.

As to your last point, I hadn't assumed Nader would be Labour's candidate for 2014. Susan Press came close to winning Calder ward this year, and against someone other than Janet Battye she might well have won. I would say she was just as likely a prospect as someone who defected and is regularly over in Turkey.


From Jonathan Timbers

Monday, 3 September 2012

Good try James to set some hares running and avoid the issue of Lib Dem failure nationally and chaos locally. Forgive me if I'm wrong but 2014 is an all council election, so there will be three candidates from each party. That doesn't exclude Sue from standing, if she wishes to.

If she does she will have to endure the Lib Fib filth machine once again - seeking to imply that she personally supports or is sympathetic to sectarian murderers (when in fact her family left Northern Ireland because they actively challenged it). Nader may have to endure accusations about being a bad parent from the source of Lib Dem's malicious comments, Hywel Bennet, who has already written a letter to that effect in the HB Times. In all my years following politics, I've never read anything more vile. I hope you're ashamed of the company you keep.

From Cllr James Baker

Monday, 3 September 2012

I believe you are wrong Jonathan. Nader retires in 2014, Dave Young in 2015 and Janet Battye in 2016.

It will be interesting to see what infulence Nader has on the local party. Being more liberal I hope it helps ensure the local Labour party breaks away from some of the more hard-left views, as typified by the links to the fringe LRC.

You take several objections to Labour members, candidates and councillors being criticised in what you colourfully phrase the 'Lib Fib filth machine'. I'm most disturbed you have discovered the existence of this machine, which I thought was safely hidden in our secret lair.

Joking aside though, in the few years I've been involved in local politics I've had to contend with all sorts of abuse from the Labour party. That I was 'unelected' (because when Labour failed to stand a candidate and I was therefore elected unopposed in White Lee ward); being called 'lower than vermin'; and then most recently on elections leaflets, that I was a right wing candidate that, and that I blamed the electorate for being apathetic when I lost an election

Elsewhere in Calderdale, Labour have run negative campaigns themselves. Take for instance the attacks against Conservative Andrew Tagg for his spending time visiting overseas with his job in exports. I believe ironically the leaflet attacked him spending time visiting Turkey....

So by all means go ahead and complain about the 'fib dems' but the problem of negative campaigning in party politics is endemic (que post from Stephen Curry), and each and everyone of us shares the blame for that.

From Eleanor Land

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Judging by the petty squabbling, typified by posts from members of all political parties on this site, it is hardly surprising that many voters decide to absent themselves from the ballot box at local elections. Many of our political representatives appear to spend most of their time point scoring and stabbing each other in the back, rather than concentrating on representing their electorate.

From Paul D

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Negativity isn't confined to the Lib Dems, but the literature they have posted through my door over the last 2-3 years has gone from their usual knockabout negative to the pretty horrible. They seem to try claim credit for things they've barely had a role in and what a politics graduate may see as clever their word play and allusions about their opponenets just comes across as cheap and nasty purile nonsense.

Their problem is that, unlike Labour, they are almost too well organised. They must have huge resources at their disposal, such is the volume and frequency of mailshots and leaflets I receive. Most of which turn voters or potentila votors off by being just tacky and horrible. How much are they allowed to spend on this stuff? Is their a limit? Is it sensible to spend money like this?

I'm not surprised Nader left, he's always struck me as a decent family man. An honest man and with a real interest in the town. Too often Lib Dems write about the town as if they live in CleckHuddersFax, they don't really seem to know it, or our needs, so just try to knock those who do. I think the coalition has tainted them, they've got nowhere to go, their leadership may as well join the Conservatives before the next election. It'll be interesting to see if they turn their bile on their partners or reserve it for those who will possibly chase them from office into political oblivion. Nader should call their bluff, they'd get hammered and know it, which is why they squeal so loiudly about it, they don't want a by-election at all - their nastiness would be further exposed and they'd probably lose badly.

From Stephen Curry

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Ah I see the debate is still raging, or rather the mud slinging of Party Politics is, (Sorry I missed my cue James! But I see Eleanor filled in nicely in that respect.)

It's strange, I'm sure I read in the early part of the forum that certain correspondents said that a posting has to have merit to get a response. Low and behold James your postings were blessed with a response!

Cllr Fekri had a 1200 majority on the back of a national surge for Lib Dems on General election day. That's a lot of people who didn't vote for just the 'friendly family man'. And a lot of people who didn't vote Labour. Even local Labour supporter Margaret Boyle said in the Hebden Bridge Times that "leaving the party for which you were elected should always mean resigning and from that elected role and and giving the electorate the say in which party it wants to represent it". I think she should have said which 'person', but her point is well made.

Cllr Fekri should resign, because his office is morally illegitimate unless or until reconfirmed by a by-election.

From Rod H

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Regarding the points that Cllr James Baker makes, Ithink the issue about spending enough time in the borough is perfectly fair game in terms of political discourse, and is not below the belt. As for the name calling to you from your opponents, has this been following nasty attacks from the Lib-Dem machine, or just out-of-the-blue abuse? I suspect it is the former. To liken this to accusing your opponents of being 'supporters of terrorism' as could be inferred from those disgusting Lib Dem leaflets is a leap too far!

From Jonathan Timbers

Monday, 10 September 2012

I see that James repeats the falsehood that Hebden Bridge Branch Labour Party has links with the 'fringe Labour Representative Committee'. It doesn't. Cllr Press is a leading member of the LRC but that's her business. I'm an Anglican but that doesn't give the branch a link with the general synod. Not that it matters even if it did, as the LRC doesn't influence anything.

Being called right-wing isn't the same as malicious implications that I have sympathies for terrorists who have been involved in the murder of police officers. And anyway, in my opinion, James, you ARE a socially liberal right-winger and it's about time you came to terms with your inner Hayek. You favour the free market over the interests of the majority, whose own freedom, I and other left wingers believe, can only be secured by significantly limiting the free market. There is of course a perfectly respectable right wing line of argument that says true liberty can only be guarenteed by allowing people to deal with their private property in the way that they wish, and that markets tend to equilibrium etc. etc. And that people like me are anti-business and pro stifling bureaucracy. Whilst I might think that's not true and totally misrepresenting my views, that's fair dinkum politically.

Eleanor is right to say of course that most politiking is a turn off, but there is a point to Lib dem negative campaigning. If you try to imply your Labour opponent has connections with something truly horrible, you encourage their supporters to stay at home and Tory voters, fearful of the looney Left, to vote for you. It's nasty, but they think it works. Actually, what works is Lib dem professionalism in the way they focus on the postal vote at the outset of a campaign. Paul D is right about how well organised they are (bear in mind their national local government HQ is in the Birchliffe centre). I hope in future the Lib Dems learn to have a bit more faith in themselves and their ability to win without stooping to implying outright falsehoods.

As to being called 'lower than Vermin', I agree with you - unforgivable! Was it in a leaflet or a letter? Sounds more like a crass insult uttered in the heat of debate than something which somebody actually thought about. At least, no one has called you a bad Dad, as your friend Hywel Bennett has said of Nader. Now that is below the belt! Much worse imho than trying to say I love police murderers.

Apologies btw, in my last post, I referred to that Bennett fellow as Hywel Morgan, the much loved actor who has never, to my knowledge, implied that somebody has sympathies with terrorists who hasn't and who never said anything really nasty about somebody's family life in the newspapers. Sorry, Hywel Morgan. You must have been mortified!

From Cllr James Baker

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Jonathan the reason I stand by saying the Calder labour branch has links to the LRC is for the following reasons:

1. It has been affiliated to the LRC. Up until very recently (certainly at the time any of our leaflets went to print) it was listed as an affiliate on the LRC's webpage.

2. I believe the LRC donated money to Labours May's election campaign in Calder ward.

3. The Chair of the branch is the vice-chair of the LRC. I wonder how many other branch members are also supporters or members of this far-left group?

I would be pleased to learn that the LRC is irrelevant and most of the branch now despises its policies. I would welcome any statement from the branch distancing itself from the organisation.

Regarding Labour's own negative campaigning I didn't so much mind the crude representation of my liberalism as being right-wing. It was really the claim "when he lost in May, blamed the electorate for being apathetic." That was offensive. It was quite upsetting given how I've campaigned a lot on trying to tackle voter apathy and for new progressive voting systems.

I don't think this thread has got much further to go. I think really all people in all political parties partake in negative campaigning, and it requires an effort from all of us to try and avoid it.

On a more positive note, Edward McMillan Scott is coming here on Friday 14th sept (7.30pm White Lion function room) to talk about Human Rights, Europe and the Arab Spring. You would, I think, find him an interesting speaker.

From Eleanor Land

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

I have read with frustration the contributions from political representatives on this thread. I spent many years as a political activist trying to persuade people to turn out to vote. I now have no allegiance to any political party because I realise they are all as bad as each other. Politics has sunk to a new low, expense fiddling MP's, manifestos which aren't worth the paper they are written on, and shabby tactics employed by ALL political parties. My final words on this subject are I think Mr. Fekri should stand down and call a by-election. His electorate will then be able to pass judgement on the change of his political allegiance.

From Jonathan Timbers

Saturday, 15 September 2012

I entirely understand where Eleanor is coming from. I think there is deep mistrust for politicians, and people believe they're all the same. This is because it's largely true as politicians did nothing to prevent irresponsible capitalists from ruining the economy. They cut disabled people's benefits but leave the rich untouched. Our system is not fully democratic because major economic decisions - the decisions that really matter - are not taken by the people. Politicians increasingly accept a marginal role and don't question the basis of a system which runs on greed and the exploitation of people and the natural environment.

So much of what passes for political debate is meaningless posturing conducted in a moral vaccum. Thus, James Baker asks Hebden Bridge Labour Party to condemn the LRC. The reason being is that if it doesn't he can fabricate more untruths about links with IRA murderers and Col Gaddaffi.How boring! Why on earth anyone would bother condemning a 'fringe' organisation of little interest to most people and with no political influence is a mystery to me.

I believe that if you disagree with someone, you develop an evidence-based critique of their position and debate with them rather than condemn. The LRC isn't primarily a Gaddaffi fan club, but supports such scandalous policies as moving to organic food production, a social house building programme and the introduction of a living wage. Put like that, most people will wonder why I don't support them. I could explain, at length I'm afraid. But I suppose that's too liberal a position for modern politicians like James, who just calls himself a liberal but doesn't act that way.

I must add my thanks to him though for his kind invitation to the talk about the Arab Spring and human rights. It is a subject which interests me, but regrettably I couldn't go because of childcare responsibilities. Can someone please post a report? Let's hear about some politics that matters.

From Jason Elliott

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Eleanor Land is dead right.

This thread is very depressing reading.

You politicos talk about "voter apathy" when there are low turnouts, but it's not apathy, we really just don't find all of this sniping, back-biting and playground name-calling that you seem to spend so much time engaging in, at all motivating or appealing.