(Cllrs Bill Welsh, 5th from left, and Marianne Welsh, 5th from right, join our canvassing team)
Labour has sensationally gained two Sefton councillors in Southport, before they have even selected their candidates for next May’s local elections.
Local councillors Bill and Marianne Welsh, who recently left the Liberal Democrats to initially go independent, have now “crossed the floor” after weeks of discussion with the council’s Labour group.
The husband and wife team say they are in fact returning to their natural political roots as previously they were Labour Party members but had quit in protest after Tony Blair’s Iraq War decision.
The pair, who both represent Norwood Ward, joined Southport Lib Dems after moving here in 2009 but left last month because they felt it had drifted further to the right and they were also increasingly unhappy with the way the local party was being run.
Bill Welsh explained:
“We found the Lib Dem’s 2017 manifesto uninspiring and disagreed with a number of its policies, particularly their regressive income tax stance. By contrast, we were extremely impressed with the Labour manifesto and admired Jeremy Corbyn’s performance in what was a strong Labour campaign.”
As a result, the pair decided they wanted to rejoin the Labour Party, with their application recently accepted by Southport Labour.
The additions mean the local party is now just a few members away from the 1,000 mark says Secretary, Steve Jowett:
“We’ve gone from strength to strength in the last few years, it’s a remarkable achievement and a vibrant, energetic group determined to see Labour win here. I’m sure all of Bill and Marianne’s experience will only add to that.”
The news is the latest evidence of a surge in support for Labour in the town which in June came second in a general election here for the first time since 1966. Their candidate, Liz Savage, also recorded its highest ever vote share. Since then Southport has been declared a key marginal by Jeremy Corbyn who held a huge rally on its beachfront earlier this month.
Marianne Welsh says they are delighted to be returning to the Labour fold:
“We will do all we can to ensure more Labour councillors are elected in Southport and believe it’s vital for the town that it returns a Labour MP at the next general election. Only a Labour Government will act to rebalance the economy away from the overheated South East in order to help Northern towns like Southport.”
Labour leader of Sefton Council, Ian Maher, commented:
“Marianne and Bill are a welcome addition to the Labour group of councillors on Sefton Council and hopefully we will have even more Labour colleagues from Southport joining us after the forthcoming May election.”