An MP who defected from the Conservatives to the Labour party previously criticised the party nationally, as well as the local Labour-led council in his constituency, while campaigning in the last general election.
Christian Wakeford posted numerous critical comments on social media about the local Labour council in Bury’s “neglect” of the town, but the deputy-leader of the council has described him as “a man of integrity”.
At a glance: 5 key points
- Christian Wakeford, MP for Bury South, became the first Conservative MP to cross the Floor and join Labour since 2007, despite being highly critical of the party and its record in his constituency at the last election
- Prior to and during the 2019 general election campaign, Wakeford criticised Bury council, often using the hashtag “#LabourNeglect”, and said voters have been “badly let down by a Labour council for years”
- But Labour councillor and deputy council leader Andrea Simpson told NationalWorld that Wakeford is a “man of integrity” who has been “very supportive”
- A senior Labour source in Bury told NationalWorld the first anyone there heard of the defection was when it was announced on the news, but spoke positively of Wakeford and said he was “very welcome”
- The source said that a defection by the neighbouring Conservative MP, James Daly MP, who holds the ultra-marginal Bury North, is “highly unlikely”
What’s been said?
In August 2019, Christian Wakeford Tweeted a picture of local Conservative activists campaigning, with the caption “Great to see the team out tackling years of Labour neglect”.
In a Tweet from around the same time, Wakeford said many “lifelong Labour supporters” were switching to the Conservatives in an upcoming council election “after years of #LabourNeglect”.
And in November 2019, he Tweeted: “One of my key priorities is the #regeneration of our Town Centres and High Streets. They’ve been badly let down by a Labour Council for years. The Conservatives are investing more into our towns to bring empty shops back into use and to increase footfall”.
Speaking to NationalWorld, Andrea Simpson, First Deputy Leader of Bury Council, said: “I have always found Christian to be a man of integrity who can be reasoned with.
“I had a lot to do with him regarding the council’s response to Covid and he was very supportive.
“He obviously understands how much the Tories have lost touch with ordinary people. Those ordinary people who follow the rules, unlike those people that make them. Quite rightly, a lot of constituents are outraged at Boris Johnson and his antics and the corruption with the spend on Covid, dodgy contracts with tory chum donors.
“I think any decent MP with an ounce of integrity will question their role in the current Government.”
A senior Labour source in Bury told NationalWorld that they were “as surprised as you are” when they heard about Wakeford’s defection.
The source said Wakeford had always been productive and worked well with the council, “unlike his colleague in Bury North”.