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Danny McCarthy quits Lib Dems

Cathedrals ward councillor Danny McCarthy has resigned from the Liberal Democrats and is now seeking to re-join the Labour Party.

Cllr Danny McCarthy and Cllr Nick Stanton
Cllr Danny McCarthy and Cllr Nick Stanton

Danny McCarthy says that the main reason for his resignation is discontent with the alliance between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives in Southwark.

After May's local elections both Labour and the Lib Dems had 28 councillors each. The deal between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives gives the six-strong Tory group two seats on the ruling Executive, including the deputy leadership of the council.

Yesterday we reported that Cllr McCarthy had been suspended from the Lib Dem group after failing to pledge his loyalty to the party.

What Danny McCarthy says

"The alliance with the Tory party has been eating away at me like a cancer," writes Danny McCarthy in his resignation letter to Southwark Lib Dem leader Nick Stanton.

He continues: "I now realise that I cannot be a part of an alliance with a party that has been my political enemy since I was old enough to realise that this party was the enemy of my class."

He adds: "I intend to ask if I can rejoin the Labour Party, the party I grew up in, which is the party of my class, I will always be an ardent trade unionist..."

Danny McCarthy represented Liddle ward between 1992 and 1998. Elected as a Labour councillor, he joined the Lib Dems in 1997. He has been a Lib Dem councillor in Cathedrals ward since 2002.

Cllr McCarthy is the chair of Borough and Bankside Community Council, which is due to meet at Charles Dickens School on Wednesday evening.

What the Lib Dem leader says

Replying to Danny McCarthy's resignation letter, council leader Nick Stanton condemns what he describes as a "betrayal of the trust of the voters of Cathedrals ward who voted for three Liberal Democrats but must now put up with a councillor who is asking to rejoin the Labour Party".

Cllr Stanton continued: "The only honourable course of action to take in such circumstances must be to resign your seat and stand for re-election in a by-election and let the voters decide."

The council leader rejects Cllr McCarthy's claims that he was not treated fairly by the Lib Dem Group: "Despite clearly bringing the group and party into disrepute, we have bent over backwards to seek to accommodate your wishes."

What the Labour leader says

"We welcome Cllr McCarthy's application to re-join the Labour party and secure our position as Southwark's largest political force," says Labour group leader Cllr Peter John.

"Many people – including current Lib Dem councillors – are deeply disillusioned with the Conservative-controlled coalition which is running Southwark. It is a coalition of cuts, division and discontent which seems determined to abolish key housing services as part of its programme to run down the Council."

"Labour is setting out a positive vision for Southwark," says Cllr John.

He concluded: "We now ask other Lib Dem councillors to consider their own position to ensure we can deliver."

What it means for Southwark

The resignation means that Labour is now the largest single party on Southwark Council, but the Lib Dem/Conservative coalition is still able to outvote the other parties combined.

Rumours of further possible resignations from the Lib Dem group – flatly denied by the Lib Dem leadership and dismissed as Labour propaganda – have been circulating for some weeks. If two more councillors left the Lib Dem group for Labour, the balance of power would rest with Green Party councillor Jenny Jones, better known as a member of the London Assembly.

Speaking at the end of last month when rumours of resignations were first reported by the local press, Cllr Jones said: "I would hope that any councillor changing party affiliation so soon after seeking election under a different banner would seriously consider giving the voters the opportunity to endorse their decision by standing for re-election.

"In the event of a motion of no-confidence in the Lib Dem / Tory administration being tabled I will consult the members of the Southwark Green Party on how to cast my vote. Our decision will be based on what we believe will be best for the people of Southwark."

State of the parties on Southwark Council

Labour – 28 (29 if Cllr McCarthy is accepted)
Liberal Democrat – 27
Conservative – 6
Green – 1

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