Top Lib Dems leave party

TWO high-profile Liberal Democrats have left the party in opposition to the coalition with the Tories.

TWO high-profile Liberal Democrats have left the party in opposition to the coalition with the Tories.

Brixington's former mayor and former leader of the party at the district council, Trevor Cope, has left the party after three decades.

He will now sit at East Devon District Council and at the town hall as an independent councillor.

Their prospective parliamentary candidate and former leader of South Somerset District Council, Paull Robathan, also handed in his membership.


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Mr Cope, 57, was secretary of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine campaign and said: "After 30 years as a Liberal and latterly a Liberal Democrat, always standing against Conservatives, I felt I could no longer support the party and its coalition with the Conservatives.

"I feel that this is not in the interest of people locally to have no opposition on local councils."

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Mr Robathan, in his election speech, had hinted he may stand for election again after increasing the Lib Dem's share of the vote - but that was before the Conservatives failed to get a clear mandate.

Mr Robathan, 62, said: "I was thrilled to be selected to stand as Liberal Democrat candidate for East Devon, but devastated when the Lib Dem's entered a full coalition with Conservatives and moved away from my principles, so now I am not a Liberal Democrat."

East Devon Lib Dem leader and President, Withycombe's Geoff Chamberlain, said: "Trevor has been somewhat disjointed for the last two years.

"He was very upset when he failed to get nominated as parliamentary candidate two years ago and, since then, he become quite disaffected.

"He hasn't really taken part in things for a while and played no part in the election campaign.

"I think he is using what has happened since as an excuse to leave the party.

"It is regrettable, as he was a very useful, hard working member in the past and quite what part he will play sitting as an independent remains to be seen."

Cllr Chamberlain said of Mr Robathan: "He was a great candidate and we would have dearly loved to have kept him but sadly it wasn't to be and he used it as an opportunity to leave the party."

He denied that disaffected activists, especially in the South West who were pitted in pitched battles with Tories in key marginals like Wells and Torbay, were leaving the party en-masse.

"Nationally, since the election, 250 members have left, but we have gained 750 new members."

A recent poll by ComRes shows Lib Dem support down three percent to 21 percent and the Conservatives support up one to 38 per cent.

The defeated Labour party have seen a post election bounce of four per cent up to 34 per cent.

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