A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
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A defection that lacks credibility
21/02/2011 23:51:00

Apparently, Labour Group Leader Tony Newman announced at tonight's Cabinet meeting that Andrew Pelling has joined the Labour Party. If true, it is very sad news.

I have known Andrew for 15 years. I can say without hesitation that he doesn't have a Labour bone in his body. He served as a Conservative councillor for 24 years. During the time I was on the Council with him, he was Deputy Leader then Leader of the Conservative Group - and a visceral critic of many of the people he now claims to support.

After he parted company with the Conservative Party, he stood as an independent candidate, arguing that independents do a better job than people elected on a party ticket.

He has now changed his view twice in less than a year. Which one is the real Andrew Pelling? The lifelong Conservative? The independent outsider campaigning against the political parties? The born-again Labour supporter? How can you explain these changes of heart? How can someone who joined the Conservative Party when Margaret Thatcher was in charge and thought Labour was too left wing when Tony Blair was Prime Minister now decide to switch sides?

The answer is simple and has nothing to do with values or policy: Andrew is desperate to be a councillor and/or an MP again. He has concluded that he can't win as an independent, that he has burnt his bridges with the Conservative Party and that Labour is the only option left.

As I said, very sad news - both for the Conservative Party (which as I have acknowledged before could have handled the events of 2007-8 better) and particularly for Andrew himself who I am sure, at heart, remains a Conservative.

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