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Conservatives get a toehold on Manchester Council

Manchester_town_hallDavid Cameron will announce this afternoon, after speaking about the NHS, that a LibDem councillor in Manchester is joining the Conservative Party.

This is good news for Manchester, as the only Conservative councillor on the council they will offer a much-needed alternative voice. At the moment there are 61 Labour councillors, 34 LibDem, and 1 Green Party.

Whilst the significance of getting councillors in the northern city centre councils can be overstated by commentators (when there is a Conservative presence in the surrounding urban areas), this is still very symbolic, and encouraging news for Conservatives in the North West.

More details later....

Bhatti 3pm: The Manchester Evening News is reporting that the defection was engineered by Sajjad Karim, the MEP who defected to the Conservatives two months ago:

"The M.E.N. understands he was persuaded to jump ship by Saj Karim, the Euro-MP who made the Lib Dem-to-Tory switch in November.  That defection was also seen as a major blow for the Lib Dems - not least because Mr Karim was their only Asian parliamentarian.  Mr Karim said today: "This sends a very clear signal that the party is broadening its appeal and allowing people like him to feel comfortable in their natural home.""

This statement has been issued by North West Conservatives:

"Cllr. Faraz Bhatti, formerly a Liberal Democrat Councillor for Whalley Range, has today joined the Conservative Party.  Cllr. Bhatti is the first Conservative Councillor on Manchester City Council since 1996.  The 34-year-old legal executive will be welcomed by Conservative Party Leader David Cameron at Manchester Town Hall at 1530hrs.

David Cameron said:

"I am delighted to welcome Faraz Bhatti.  Today, Faraz is showing that our Party is the true home of progressive politics.  We stand for extending opportunity and decentralizing power to stronger families; a more responsible society and a safer, greener Britain. For the first time in 11 years, we now have a Conservative on Manchester City Council.  I look forward to working with Faraz and our Conservative activists in Manchester to tackle crime and improve the quality of life for people in Manchester.”

Cllr. Faraz Bhatti said:

“David Cameron has brought the Conservative Party back to the centre ground of British politics.  Like me, he believes in spreading opportunity and giving people a real say over their own lives.  Across the country, only the Conservatives can be the change that Britain needs. Here, in Manchester, people are crying out for change.  The ‘Punch and Judy’ politics of the current parties is not in the best interests of this city.  Manchester needs a real opposition to question the decisions of the Labour Council. The Liberal Democrats have, I’m afraid, become inward looking and too protective of their own positions in the Town Hall.”

Rob Adlard, Chairman of Manchester Conservatives, said:

“I am be delighted to welcome Faraz to Manchester Conservatives.  He has a great political future and I know he shares our views on many issues facing the City.  For too long, the Liberal Democrats have failed to provide the alternative to Labour, not least on the issues that matter to people in Manchester, such as the Congestion Charge, which we oppose.  Faraz’s decision is a further sign of the renewal of Manchester’s Conservative Party, led by a new generation of young people, committed to this City.”


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