Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Former Lib Dem to stand for Greens in Camden by-election

In a surprise move, which is likely to send shockwaves across Camden politics, the Green Party has chosen former Liberal Democrat councillor and Camden Eco Champion, Alexis Rowell, as their candidate for the Highgate by-election on Thursday 15th September.

Alexis was a leading Lib Dem councillor in Camden from 2006 to 2010, and is widely credited with having significantly raised the profile of environmental issues in the council and across the borough.
But, shortly after winning a national Sustainability Councillor of the Year award, he stood down at the May 2010 elections saying he'd done 80% of what he'd set out to do.

After his selection on Tuesday night by the Camden Greens, Alexis said: "I have been growing increasingly disillusioned with the Lib Dems since the party joined the coalition government. My principal reason for leaving was Chris Huhne's support for nuclear power, but I have also been completely unimpressed with the coalition's overall environmental record and appalled by what their policies and cuts are doing to the social fabric."

Alexis formally resigned from the Lib Dems on Monday, paving the way for his selection by the Greens on Tuesday night.

In his resignation letter to Nick Clegg, he said:
I recognise that any government would have had to make difficult decisions, but I'm still shocked by the fact that you signed the foreword to the bill to privatise the NHS, by the draconian frontloaded cuts to local government, by the free schools policy, by the virtual abandonment of state-funded higher education, by the lack of any action on banker bonuses and exorbitant pay in general, by the decision to fully privatise the Royal Mail, and by a host of other free market or libertarian policies which I didn't vote for and which I can't support.
 The Greens currently have one councillor in Camden, Highgate's Cllr Maya de Souza. In the past the Greens held all three seats in Highgate and are widely seen as the principal challengers to Labour in this by-election.
Cllr de Souza said: "We are delighted to have such an experienced and energetic candidate standing for us in Highgate. It is largely thanks to the work Alexis did last time he was a councillor that sustainability is such a key concern at Camden Council. But he's also got a great track record as a ward councillor responding to residents' concerns. His energy, enthusiasm and hard work will be a great asset to Highgate."

The Chair of the Camden Green Party, Natalie Bennett, said: "At a time when the Conservatives and the Lib Dems are creating havoc nationally, and Camden Council's Labour administration is closing libraries and playgroups, Alexis is a strong candidate for anyone who cares about the environment and progressive issues generally."

The leader of the national Green Party, Caroline Lucas MP, said: "Alexis's move from the Lib Dems to the Greens shows that it is the Greens who are leading the way on progressive and environmental politics in the UK. I encourage all Lib Dems to take a long hard look at what the coalition is doing and to ask themselves whether they really support what's happening."

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