New Lib Dem defection in Highland Council
8 May 2012
Only days after being elected, a veteran Lib Dem councillor has defected from her party to join the Independent grouping who are trying to form the next administration in Highland Council.
The 80 member council has returned 36 Independents, 22 SNP, 14 Lib Dem and 8 Labour councillors, resulting in no overall majority for any grouping. It is suggested that the Independents will ally with Labour in order to squeeze out the SNP. The SNP had formed part of the administration at the beginning of the previous council, but withdrew from it in 2008 so that it was run latterly by an Independent/Lib Dem/Labour coalition.
Liz Campbell stood as a Lib Dem for the local council election last Thursday and was elected, but she has now joined the Independent councillors. This will put a squeeze upon Lib Dem influence in the Council, and it is possible that the Lib Dems are now viewed as damaged goods which can only tarnish one’s image. There was also displeasure expressed at some Lib Dems who tried to take the credit for collective results.
There were 22 Lib Dem councillors in the last Highland Council, but there were two defections during the last session. 20 candidates stood for the council this time, including Biz Campbell in Ward 6 - Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh. She obtained the most votes in her ward, in which two other Independents were elected. Now she has joined the Independent group.
This follows the melt-down of the Lib Dem support in the 2011 Holyrood Election, voters’ punishing them for breaking their pledge to University students and for aligning themselves with the Tories. This was followed by a second melt-down in the Council elections in Scotland and England last Thursday. Only Inverness South Ward bucked the trend by electing two Lib Dem councillors.
Lady Russell Johnston resigned from the Lib Dems in March 2012 over the Lib Dem policy to redefine marriage.
Two prominent SNP members failed to be re-elected. Former Inverness provost Bob Wynd lost his seat in the Culloden and Ardersier ward, the SNP voters preferring to re-elect Glynis Sinclair as their SNP choice and Lib Dem Kate Stephen for the first time. Glynis Sinclair had joined the SNP after leaving the Lib Dems in the previous term. In the Inverness Ward, Pauline Munro lost out to fellow SNP member Allan Dufffy and became a casualty of the SNP’s ambitious plan to field two candidates in some wards.