Long-standing Barking Labour councillor defects to UKIP over immigration policy concerns
PUBLISHED: 13:45 17 September 2013 | UPDATED: 13:45 17 September 2013
Concerns over his party’s immigration policies has led a long-standing Labour councillor to defect to UKIP.
Cllr Robert Douglas crossed the political middle ground and made the move to Nigel Farage’s centre-right UK Independence Party this week, having spent 12 years as a Labour party member.
The Becontree ward councillor of three years said he left because Labour no longer represented the interests of ordinary working people.
His departure comes after he failed a re-selection interview in June to stand for the party in next year’s local elections.
Cllr Douglas said: “I believe that the British people should have a referendum on our continued membership of the European Union and I also believe that we need strong controls on immigration.
“UKIP is the only party that I feel represents the views held by a majority of my constituents.”
The move was welcomed by UKIP, with Havering Cllr Lawrence Webb claiming it showed his party was the only one with policies that “resonated with ordinary people”.
Cllr Douglas, of Becontree Avenue, Dagenham, said he thought others would follow his example and that a quarter of his constituents responded positively to leaflets announcing his defection, with none reacting negatively.
Labour campaign organiser Cllr Darren Rodwell said he and his party colleagues felt “let down” by the move.
He also attacked UKIP, labelling it a “popularist party” that does not campaign on local issues and has “nothing to offer residents of the borough — just like the BNP”.
Cllr Douglas’ defection puts him in the same party as Essex County Cllr Kerry Smith, brother of Barking and Dagenham Council Labour leader Liam Smith.
Cllr Douglas will stand at the next local election as a UKIP candidate for Becontree.