Somehow I overlooked one of the most significant defections to the Conservatives in recent weeks. Welsh Assembly Member Mohammed Asghar has left Plaid Cymru and crossed the floor to the Conservatives. Asghar was the first minority ethnic member of the Assembly, elected in 2007. His defection gives the Conservatives 13 seats to Plaid’s 14, provides a big morale boost to the Welsh Conservatives and a blow to Plaid who are in coalition with Labour running Wales.
Asghar issued the following statement yesterday:
“For some time now I have felt out of tune with the views and policies of Plaid Cymru.
“My politics are very much in line with wanting a stronger Wales within a successful United Kingdom. I believe that the Welsh Conservative Party in the National Assembly, led by Nick Bourne, reflects my beliefs.
“I am also attracted by the caring Conservatism and policies for change put forward by David Cameron and the Conservative Party at Westminster.
“I very much look forward to playing an important role in the shadow team in the National Assembly and to helping to shape the policies for the Assembly elections in 2011.”
I was very sorry to learn that Bob Green, former Reading Borough Lib Dem Leader and Peppard ward Councillor, passed away this week. It is fair to say that Bob and I crossed swords on a number of occasions in the Council chamber but he was always unfailingly courteous outside. He was a good debater and always had the ability to speak fluently and spontaneously. He also managed to chart a sensible course for his party between the two big parties.
Bob was very much of the old school of Lib Dems. He did not believe in making personal attacks or descending into gutter politics. His Mayoral year highlighted his ability to reach out across the political divide and he was a very effective and successful Mayor both in the chamber and outside. His elevation to Freeman of the Borough of Reading was a logical continuation of his public service when he retired as a Councillor.
I remember when Bob’s illness became public knowledge and he continued valiantly without complaint. It was sad to see him struggle at one of the Council meetings when the extent of his illness became obvious. However, he fought back and made what seemed like a good recovery. I was therefore surprised to learn that he had passed away this week.
My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family but they can be assured that Bob’s memory will live on with the many people who knew him and respected him.