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Defected Haringey councillor is 'a man of no principles'
A SENIOR Haringey Councillor who defected to the Liberal Democrats has been blasted as a political opportunist of no principles who has made the move when he realised his council career was coming to a close.
The scathing criticism has come from both his former party and Conservative politicians in Haringey who claim Councillor Brian Haley spent the past year prostituting himself to the highest-bidding party in exchange for his council seat in St Ann's ward, Tottenham.
Richard Merrin, the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) for Hornsey and Wood Green, wrote in a blog last night: "The news tonight that Brian Hayley has finally drummed up some courage and finally defected has been met with little more than a yawn from me.
"Can we get him a post on the waste authority? Can we sort out a place on the Conservative Party Candidates list? Can we do this, can we do that? And all for what - securing the defection of such a political opportunist?"
His thoughts were echoed by Justin Hinchcliffe, chairman of the Tottenham Conservatives, who said: "We rejected Brian two weeks ago. He's a liability. He is the most hated councillor in Haringey for foisting CPZs on nearly every road in Haringey without proper consultation with residents. Above all, we only welcome people to our party who share our Conservative values. Brian was simply looking for a new home."
Mr Hinchcliffe alleged that on Mr Haley's "shopping list" was a post with the London Waste Authority, and had attempted to win the support of senior Tory politician Brian Coleman, a GLA member for Barnet and Camden.
Mr Coleman praised Mr Haley for being a competent politican, but added: "I have never, and would never, offer a defectee a job."
Haringey Council leader Claire Kober also condemned Mr Haley, the former cabinet member for the calling both him and the Haringey Lib Dems as "desperate".
She said: "The Labour party is a democratic organisation that lets our grassroots members decide on our candidates. Unfortunately for Brian, he was not selected for the 2010 elections. Politics should be about convictions and beliefs, not about choosing the party that can make you the best offer. As Councillor Haley himself said only last week, this is pretty desperate stuff from the Liberals."
Speaking to the Haringey Independent, Mr Haley shrugged off the attacks and maintained that while he often spoke with Conservative members he had never approached any of them about joining the party.
Mr Haley said he had made the move solely because he was passionate about social change and that Haringey Labour have been "keeping the people of Tottenham poor for 40 years" and were failing its residents.
He said: "This was a difficult decision for me but I honestly feel like a weight has been lifted.
"People might wonder why a senior cabinet member who was good at his job was due to be deselected ahead of what is going to be a tough election. I'll tell you why, it's because I was tired of bending and rolling over to appease the small group of people within the Haringey Labour party. I started to voice my opinion and I was deselected.
"An elite group is emerging centred around Claire Kober, Joe Goldberg, Lorna Reith and George Meehan — who still believes he is the council leader. The other councillors are too scared to step out of line for fear of losing their positions.
"Millions of pounds have been poured into Tottenham, a Labour stronghold, over the years and nothing has changed. Unemployment is still high. The uptake on job skills is still low. Nothing has changed in 40 years. Haringey Labour have been keeping the very people who vote for them poor."
Mr Haley's defection to the Liberal Democrats will raise eyebrows having been fierce rivals during his 16 years as a Labour councillor particularly clashing over his parking schemes.
More recently, he was embroiled in a furore over an alleged sexist comment in which he referred to female Lib Dem councillor, Laura Edge, as "a bit like a trifle, very sweet and very lightweight" with regard to one of her party's policies.
Ms Edge fled the council chamber in tears but has since accepted his apology and offered him her support in making the move across the chamber, Mr Haley said.
Several Lib Dems have also vouched for Mr Haley stating that Mr Haley was an able debater who defended his Labour portfolio well, but in private, had worked well with the party on campaigns including oen to stop ward closures at St Ann's Hospital.
Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone, welcomed Mr Haley to the party.
Ms Featherstone said: "It is a damning indictment that someone who has been at the heart of Labour for so long has lost confidence in Labour’s ability to solve Haringey’s many problems.
"I welcome Councillor Haley on board in our fight to take control of the council next May."
Mr Haley's defection has now narrowed the gap between the opposting parties to a mere four seats, setting the scene for an interesting election in May with Labour stronghold seats in Tottenham a key battleground.
Mr Hinchliffe said his party was feeling confident about being able to steal up to two seats from Labour in Tottenham.
He added: "This election will be interesting. I predict that there will be no overall leader in Haringey Council. Labour's time is up in Haringey. 40 years in power is too long for any party."