Richard Copus (left in the picture) has been a Lib Dem activist for over two decades and contested Exeter for the party in 2001 and Plymouth Devonport in 1997.
He has paid particular tribute to Mel Stride’s “commitment, passion and dedication to local residents” in explaining his defection to the Conservatives in Central Devon, where he lives:
“I have been an active member of the Liberal Democrats for 25 years and have stood for Parliament as a Lib Dem twice, which included fighting Labour’s Ben Bradshaw in Exeter. But over the last few years a lot has happened to make me change my views. One major factor has been the Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Central Devon, Mel Stride. I have watched Mel closely as a candidate for the last 3 years and have carefully read his articles, followed his campaigns and become sufficiently interested to hear him speak publicly and to meet him.
“As an active Lib Dem I was guarded initially, but came to respect his views and the positive way in which he campaigns. I am impressed with the passion with which he has taken up local issues - protecting our post offices, local hospitals, affordable housing, climate change, school funding, farming and rural transport amongst others. I also admire Mel’s capacity to listen to people: a virtue many politicians lack. Working from the bottom up is my sort of politics. For too long now we have been governed from the top down with very little reference to what real people want. Housing is an example of this approach. The Conservatives want to put planning decisions back into the hands of the local people who have to live with the results.”
“I am urging people to support Mel at the next General Election. Only the Conservatives can get rid of this worn out government and I know that Mel will give all of us a very powerful voice in Parliament.”
Mel Stride gave a warm welcome to his newest recruit, who is also the Devon spokesman for the National Association of Estate Agents:
“I am delighted that Richard has decided to put his weight behind my campaign. Both Richard and I are particularly concerned about the lack of affordable housing in Devon and I have no doubt that going forward his advice and support in this area will be particularly useful.”
Mel will defend what is a notional Conservative majority of 2,338 in Central Devon, where the Lib Dems appear to be in a state of disarray. Their candidate for the seat resigned last year a couple of months after this amazing letter to her party HQ was leaked to the press - and no replacement has yet been chosen.