A shock double allegiance switch has been announced at Northampton Borough Council with two former Labour councillors confirming defections to the Tories this morning.
Councillor Mohammed Aziz (Con, Castle) and Councillor Nahar Begum (Con, Trinity), who are married, have begun the new year by revealing they are both set to leave the Labour group and join the controlling Conservatives at the borough. It leaves Labour with seven councillors at the Guildhall versus 19 in the ruling Tory party.
Councillor Aziz said he has swapped sides because he believes the Tories are the only party ‘capable’ of driving improvements in Northampton.
He said: “I am very impressed with what the Conservatives are doing to turn our town around, and it is clear that they are the only party capable of improving Northampton.
“I became a councillor to make things better for the people I represent and for the town I live in, and the best way I can do that is as a member of the Conservative group.”
Councillor Begum added: “The Conservatives are the only party doing something positive for our town, and I want to support them and be part of what they are doing.”
Leader of the borough’s Labour group Councillor Les Marriott (Lab, Semilong), said he was ‘disappointed” by the defections - but denied claims made by Northampton North MP Michael Ellis that the group is in ‘shambles’.
Councillor Marriott said: “I have had conversations with both Councillor Aziz and Councillor Begum and we are both on really good terms.
“I am very disappointed by any sort of defection - at the end of the day you pick a party with the same value and principles as yourself and stick with it.”
A Labour Party spokesperson said both Councillor Aziz and Councillor Begum were unlikely to be selected to run in the May elections.
“Northampton Labour is not surprised that these two councillors have defected.” The spokesperson said.
“One of them was not allowed back to stand again for the Labour party at the forthcoming council elections because her communication skills were not deemed to be adequate.
“The other faced difficulties with re-selection in his ward.
“The Labour Party is committed to selecting good quality candidates that are representative of the communities they wish to serve. We offer training and support to help potential candidates meet that standard.”
Northampton North MP Michael Ellis, said: “I am delighted to welcome two more councillors to the Conservative Party.
“These new defections from Labour show the shambles the Labour Party is in.
“The Northampton Labour Party spend all of their time fighting among themselves and anyone serious about making a difference to our town and our communities knows that the only Party delivering for Northampton and for the country is the Conservatives.”
Former Conservative borough councillor Yousuf Miah, hinted more Labour councillors could be due to make the switch via Twitter.
He posted: “Defections 2&3 awaiting confirmation, 4&5 to follow? All falling apart @Npton_Labour.”