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Betty Booed

bettyevansjacasHell hath no fury like a party scorned, and so it is with Labour in Lambeth, who are working themselves up into a lather over the defection of a councillor to the Conservatives

Brixton Hill councillor Betty Evans-Jacas (above) threw her lot in with Labour last Friday (9th October), claiming in a statement that she had taken the decision after “years of agonising over the failure of the leadership of the Labour Party in Lambeth to listen to the residents.”

But the Labour leader Steve Reed has hit back, with a furious article on his website headlined “turncoat councillor betrays local people.”

A Labour member for over 30 years, Evans-Jacas is said to have decided not to stand for election next year, after prolonged and serious health issues, but Reed implied that Evans-Jacas had been rejected as a candidate in favour of a harder working activist.

Conservative group leader John Whelan said they were considering “taking legal advice” over inaccuracies in Cllr Reed’s blog. The verocity of Reed’s attack is also understood to have caused disquite among Labour footsoldiers as well.

Evans-Jacas, a member of Labour’s National Policy Forum and vice-chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, has had a troubled relationship with her own party after getting elected in 2006.

Steve Reed's article

Steve Reed's article

A devout Christian, American-born Evans-Jacas was one of a new wave of Black Labour politicians who bucked the trend in 2006 to win back control over Lambeth Town Hall from a Lib Dem-Tory coalition.

The defection has so enraged Reed that he appears to have abandoned any statesmanlike stance and has gone for the jugular, accusing Evans-Jacas of delivering a “massive slap in the face for thousands of voters.”

He added: “Since being elected Betty has done almost nothing for local people, is barred from voting on financial matters, and at the height of the MPs expenses scandal she tried to grab extra allowances for herself.”

This is a reference to the sanction on Evans-Jacas that she cannot vote on financial matters after failing to pay council tax on one of her properties. Labour blogger Mark Bennett was just as scathing.

The financial allegation was, until Reed revealed it, an entirely private issue that was not previously a matter of public record.

Cllr Whelan said: ‘It’s just an amazing slur. It’s not the dignified thing that a leader of a council should put out.’

While it is understandable that Labour will be upset at Evans-Jacas’s decision to join the Tories, the level of vitriol directed towards her seems a over-the-top.

This can only serve to reinforce the impression some have of local politics, which will surely put decent people off. Thankfully, the debate on ConservativeHome is a lot more level-headed.

One comment, by Brixton Lad, said: “Don’t be taken in by venomous Labour spin and sour grapes.” Another, by Sarf Lunnon, added: “I only know of Cllr Evans-Jacas by reputation, which is that she is truly upright and honest.

“She is not the ‘jumping ship’ type. I suspect her decision is a straightforward comparison between the shenanigans and attitudes of individuals within the Labour Group and the quality of the half dozen Conservative Lambeth Councillors, all of whom she will of course know well.”

Evans-Jacas was not available for comment.

By Lester Holloway

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One Response

  1. Wow, I have been out of the country for only a week and this what happens….I am shocked but not surprised. Or am I, I have known Betty for some time and thought that she was dedicated to the core and would fight labour values to the bitter end. She had encouraged me to stand as a labour candidate in the last local elections, so yes….I mean no, I am not surprised.

    Her decision to defect to the conservatives is clear and I am sure she will not be the last. Poor leadership and direction from the labour party and government has led to the conservatives moving into a position of strength, where they may overtake labour at the next elections.

    Though I am not sure about that either, one thing I am sure about it wont be me….the reason for Betty’s decision to defect is the very reason I have chosen to rejoin labour. I will give my all to fight against the conservatives…..good luck Betty….but I think you may regret jumping from the cruise ship onto the barge….

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