Back in June last year, Les Byrom - the former leader of Southport Conservatives - quit the party and joined Labour. I blogged on it here, and at the time, he blamed the party's: "...unprincipled approach to policy-making, determined less by what is right for the country than what will produce the maximum short-term partisan advantage."
And in response to that, Hazel Blears said this, welcoming Byrom to the party:
"Here is another top Tory who has seen through David Cameron's shallow salesmanship and said 'enough is enough'."
As Iain Dale pointed out, the real reason for this defection turned out to be that Byrom was going to have a nice little earner taken away from him. Now, why am I mentioning this you might ask? Because Terry Hipsey, the Tory leader of Thurrock Council, has just quit and joined Labour, saying:
"I have resigned as leader of Thurrock Council, and have left the Conservative party to become a Labour councillor. This last week has shown some of the worst examples of David Cameron’s attempt to respond to the recession."
This is pretty much a combination of the lines Blears and Byrom came up with last year, so obviously there's a file of things Labour likes to get defectors to say. These days it's probably a very dusty file, but there we go. But that's not the end - no sir! For you see, Hispey goes on to say:
“I’ve spent the last two-and-a-half years trying to keep this dysfunctional Tory group together. Having some time to reflect, it has become clear this group and the Conservative Party are incapable of making the changes necessary to take Thurrock forward."
A bit pissy, don't you think? And surely, as the group leader, he should take responsibility if he can't sort these problems out? Moreover, councils are gearing up for their 'annual council' meetings at the moment. These should take place for most of them within the next month or two, and signal the start of the new council year. And as part of the new council year, groups within the councils will hold their own elections - electing leaders, deputy leaders, and things like that. I'd put money on someone running against him, a massive fallout within the group, or him believing he'd lose his job as the real reason for Hipsey's defection.
Update: I swear this little bit wasn't in the article when I first saw it. Smoke and fire, and all that:
"In a press conference last week Mr Hipsey said he had no intention of quitting and rumours that he was being forced out by Conservative central office were unfounded."
Opinium/Observer – CON 40, LAB 43, LDEM 6
1 hour ago