At last night's Council meeting, Councillor Greta Sohoye, who represents Bensham Manor, announced that she was defecting from Labour to the Conservatives.
Speaking about her decision Cllr Sohoye said, "I have for some time been considering my position in the Labour Group. I recently attended the Community Cohesion conference at Fairfield Halls and was very impressed with what the Conservatives were doing for minority communities in Croydon. I remember listening to Gavin Barwell's speech and thinking 'those are my views too'.
"I believe the Conservative Party has changed and is a party that welcomes and provides opportunity to all sectors of the community. I contrast this with my own experience within the Labour Group, where ethnic minority councillors are marginalised and mostly ignored by Tony Newman and the leadership team."
Cllr Sohoye also highlighted the Conservative administration's ambition for Croydon: "It is very clear to me that the Conservatives have real plans and the commitment to regenerate the town. The Labour Group are stuck in the past and have no ideas about how to take Croydon forward. I believe that my constituents in Bensham Manor will benefit greatly from the re-election of a Conservative Council and that is why I have taken this decision after more than 30 years in the Labour Party."
We're obviously delighted that Greta has taken this decision and on a personal level it was nice to hear that my speech to the Community Cohesion conference was a small factor in her decision. She is the second Labour councillor from the black and minority ethnic community to cross the floor in the last couple of years.
In the past, most black and minority ethnic people have voted Labour - not surprisingly given the attitude of parts of the Conservative Party. That was clearly bad for the Conservative Party but it was also bad for the black and minority ethnic community because it has allowed Labour to take their votes for granted.
But under David Cameron's leadership, all that has changed. On the doorstep, we are finding more and more black and minority ethnic people saying that they have had enough of Labour and are considering switching to us. We are working hard to ensure that Croydon Central Conservatives reflect all the different communities that have made Croydon their home. We have selected a team of candidates that reflects the make-up of the borough as I have posted here and here. And, as Greta's decision last night shows, now that they have a real choice even lifelong Labour supporters are considering whether Gordon Brown's Labour Party really reflects their values.