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Thursday, 24 September 2020

Notts Labour councillor quits and moves to Tories

He will now join the ruling coalition which runs the county council, made up of Conservative and Mansfield Independent councillors.

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A former Labour councillor will now be joining the Conservative administration at Nottinghamshire County Council.

Councillor John Knight represents Kirkby North on Nottinghamshire County Council.

He was first elected for Labour in 2005, and stood successfully for them in 2009, 2013 and 2017.

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He said the decision had been ‘one of the biggest in his life’, but that he would ‘never badmouth Labour’.

He will now join the ruling coalition which runs the county council, made up of Conservative and Mansfield Independent councillors.

He has also been made the chairman of the soon-to-be-established COVID 19 Resilience, Recovery and Renewal Committee, for which he will receive an additional payment of £22,848 a year.

The new committee will also look at local government reorganisation.

Councillor Knight said: “It was the biggest decision I’ve made on a personal basis, other than the obvious ones about getting married and stuff like that.

“It wasn’t an easy decision to make and I’ve been struggling with it for quite a while.

“It’s not the first time I’ve been approached by the Conservative Party, and I’ve always turned them down out of a sense of loyalty to people who were in the party.

“I just kept turning it down out of some misguided loyalty and the fact I’d been in the party for a long time. You don’t wake up one morning and say ‘suddenly I’m a Conservative’, it doesn’t work like that.

“But I suppose if this coronavirus has given people time to do anything it’s time to think and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my life and what I can do.

“I came to the conclusion that I was not going to bad-mouth the Labour Party, I’m not going to do all those cliches about ‘the party left me’ and that kind of stuff, I left because it was quite clear under the leadership of Alan Rhodes I was never going to do anything.

“I was just going to sit there festering and I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to do something of public service, and the Conservative Party offered me a position where I think I can do something for the people of Nottingham, so I took it, it was as simple as that.

“Life is too short, and this has brought it home to me.

“If I’ve got any use left whatsoever in politics then I want to do something for the people of Nottinghamshire, even if I get abuse for doing it.”

When asked whether the financial incentive had been a factor in his decision, he said:

“I’ve made very clear the reason I’m leaving is because I felt completely worthless on the Labour benches.

“But that’s not about financial issues, that’s completely irrelevant, I don’t even know if I’m being paid for this.”

Council documents on the setting up of the committee show Councillor Knight will receive £22,848 per year to chair the new committee, in line with chairmen and chairwomen of other committees.

Labour leader Alan Rhodes said: “I wish him well. He’s obviously made a difficult decision and that’s for him to explain to his constituents.”

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