Long-standing councillor Simon McDougall has become the latest in a long line of Liberal Democrat councillors to join the Green Party. Increasing numbers of Lib Dem elected representatives are taking the decision to switch to the Greens ahead of next May’s elections. Cllr McDougall becomes the first Green member of Arun District Council since it was formed in 1974 from the merger of Bognor Regis, Littlehampton and Arundel. Cllr McDougall, who has represented the people of Bognor Regis for 23 years, made his move after six months as an independent following his resignation from the Liberal Democrats.
Commenting Mr McDougall said: "The Greens are a growing party of the left side of politics, where my heart is, who offer an alternative to the right wing rhetoric of UKIP. The Green Party have been clear in supporting a referendum on Europe. The Greens are promoting the case of a Living Wage, defending the NHS as a service and will not privatise it. They have progressive environmental policies that will protect us from the threat of climate change, whereas other parties deny the evidence that this is even happening. The Greens are fighting for welfare policies that ensure those less well off in society have a safety net that they can rely on."
Cllr McDougall stood for the Lib Dems in the 2010 general election, coming second. He said many people who supported him at the ballot box signed up to the Lib Dem agenda. But they were badly let down when the party joined the Coalition government. "I never supported the Coalition and its consequences, like the rise in VAT, abandoning free student tuition and the bedroom tax. I have not changed but political parties have. Locally I will continue to serve to the end of my term in Bersted as a Green and will seek a fresh mandate in 2015 as a Green candidate".
Simon is the latest is a long list of former LibDem councillors to switch to the Green Party.
Councillor Jean Hamilton, who joined the Green Party and Green Group on Solihull Council in February 2014 after serving as a Liberal Democrat councillor for seven years, today explained her reasons for making the switch: "Rather than putting the brakes on or moderating the Conservative vision, the Liberal Democrats in Coalition have enabled their partners to implement some of the most radical, right wing policies – the sort of which even Margaret Thatcher wouldn't have even begun to dream of."
Cllr Andy Hodgson (Shirley South) moved from the Lib Dems to the Greens in 2012. Hodgson echoed Hamilton’s disappointment with how the Lib Dems have operated in power: "When the coalition government was established with the Conservatives I was concerned that the party would have to concede a great deal. I had not anticipated the massive shift away from the parties’ core values regarding tuition fees, protection of the NHS and supporting the fairness and equality agenda."