Blow for Lib Dems as member jumps ship

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ONE of the top Liberal Democrat councillors in Nick Clegg’s constituency of Sheffield has defected to the Labour group, saying he was “not prepared to be a cheerleader for David Cameron and his Tory government.”

Clive Skelton, who was a member of the Lib Dem group’s shadow cabinet, said in his resignation letter the party he joined 20 years ago “has lurched so far to the right” he finds it incompatible with his views.

The long-serving member for Beauchief and Greenhill ward will now sit on Sheffield Council as a Labour councillor, bringing their total number of members to 60 to the Lib Dems’ 22.

Coun Skelton said yesterday: “The party I joined no longer seems to exist. I believe in progressive left-of-centre politics, and so have watched with increasing concern at the party’s alarming lurch to the right under Nick Clegg.

“I am proud and excited to be joining a Labour Party which, under Ed Miliband nationally and Julie Dore in Sheffield, has a strong vision for building a better Britain.

“I will continue to work hard for my constituents in Beauchief and Greenhill.”

Leader of the Lib Dem group on Sheffield Council, Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, said he was “surprised and disappointed” by Coun Skelton’s decision, adding: “I’m sure the thousands of people who elected him as a Lib Dem councillor will be disappointed too.”