Les Miserable

I don't like turncoats - remind me too much of the double-sided rugby tops of Grammar school - but in certain circumstances I'm willing to welcome those travelling the Damascan path. Not so Leslie T. Byrom CBE FRICS. As reported today, Cllr B has resigned from Cameron's Conservatives - ostensibly over the 42 day detention policy - and Labour (split over the issue) wants him on board HMS Habeas Corpus. This is a political free-jumper (nearly put free-loader but remembered he wasn't called Den Dover) who had 30 years in politics as a Tory. When Thatcher began to destroy Merseyside, Byrom was a member of the welcoming committee; moreover he was a member of the host party.

As his dreadful home page points out:

  • Joined Sefton Council 6th June 1985, Conservative Leader 1991 to 2005

  • Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority Conservative Group Leader
    Chairman, LGA Fire Services Management Committee, LGA and Conservative spokesman for the Fire Service, Chairman of the Fire Forum, Member Safer Communities Board, DCLG Centre of Excellence and Equalities and Diversity project boards. Fire Practitioners Forum. Chairman Employers side, National Joint Council (NJC) Fire service negotiating body for the UK.

  • Euro Parliamentary Candidate,
    European Elections 1999, Conservative North West 8th position
    European Elections 2004, 8th position
    Parliamentary Candidate Westminster
    Knowsley South Parliamentary By Election 29th September 1991 and General Election 1992. Wirral South Parliamentary By Election 28th February 1997 and General Election 1997.

Byrom lost the epochal Wirral South by-election with a swing to Labour in excess of 17%.

Well, one thing we do know is that whilst Les The Surveyor (Chartered) is popular in his Sefton ward, he seems to come unstuck when putting himself up for higher things. The 1997 By-election defeat in a Tory seat paved the way for the election of Comrade Blair. I didn't keep hold of Les's election addresses during that ill-fated campaign, but I don't remember it being too complimentary towards his new New Labour chums.

Many of us had high hopes in 1997, and perhaps such defections come as no surprise these days as the Labour Government, rather than being feared by its natural opponents, is actually welcomed.

Coming as it does on a day when figures suggest that the elderly and children are worse off, the fact that an establishment figure such as Byrom should feel comfortable in Labour circles. Iain Dale, whose diary long ceased to be of interest has a take on why Les has taken the trip to the dark side at this particular time here. He might say that, but I couldn't possibly comment.

The Labour Party - happy to deflect criticism of Brown - is as ever, ready to lay out the not-so-red carpet:

  • Hazel Blears MP, Labour's Communities and Local Government Secretary, said:"Les Byrom is a big player in North West politics and I am pleased that he has made this decision. "Here is another top Tory who has seen through David Cameron's shallow salesmanship and said 'enough is enough'. "We look forward to welcoming Les into the Labour Party."

Les has a valid point in his resignation letter:

  • No matter where Lady Thatcher stood in the polls, she always sought to do what was right rather than what was politically expedient, and this is a lesson you would be well advised to learn.

And this is the great problem. I was reminded of the above when watching Thatcher in Andrew Marr's history programme. In trying to woo Mail voters and so-called Middle England, Labour has been the architect of its own misfortune. You don't have to be Les The Surveyor to know when you've neglected your foundations.