ONE of Sheffield’s most senior Liberal Democrat councillors has announced he is defecting to Labour because he disagrees with the party’s national policies.
Coun Clive Skelton, who represents Beauchief and Greenhill and was the party’s chief whip, made the decision after suffering ‘four or five sleepless nights’.
He said: “The major reason is on national grounds. When I joined, the party was left of centre and that is where my politics have always been.
“I just felt uncomfortable now the party isn’t in that place anymore.
“Nationally, I am disappointed with the leadership and I think some people are more interested in furthering their own political ambitions.
“It has been extremely difficult making this decision and it is not something I have done lightly.”
Coun Skelton, who has been a city councillor since 2004 and was also Lib Dem shadow cabinet member covering health, care and independent living, said among the policies he disagreed with were the coalition’s health reforms and cuts to benefits.
He will retain his role as deputy chairman of the council’s licensing board despite changing party.
Sheffield Council Labour leader Coun Julie Dore said: “Clive has taken a principled decision to join the Labour Party, which he feels best reflects his political views.”
Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of the council’s Lib Dem group, said: “We are surprised and disappointed to lose a long-standing councillor like Clive.
“Only recently Clive told us he wouldn’t be seeking re-election, but didn’t mention he was thinking of defecting to Labour.
“I’m sure the thousands of people who elected him as a Lib Dem councillor will be disappointed too.
“Liberal Democrat values remain the same and we will continue as the only serious opposition to Labour in Sheffield, fighting our campaigns on behalf of local people.”