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Warman Peace

Betsan Powys | 11:52 UK time, Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Just as the bookies start the new year by telling Nick Clegg his party has a snowball's chance in a very hot place of winning next week's by-election in Oldham East and Saddleworth, another message is sent - this time from Cimla.

John Warman, a Neath County councillor has "come home to Labour" after 30 years as a Lib Dem. It's clear he always very much felt and sounded like a Labour politician anyway and his is hardly the high profile defection Labour might have hoped for.

But if politicians who defect tend to be seen as opportunists, it has to be said Mr Warman didn't much look like one this morning. He just looked fed up and too unhappy with his lot to remain a Lib Dem.

"I was there when Nick Clegg came to Swansea University during the General Election campaign - the pledge to end student fees earned him a hero's welcome. I cannot abide hypocrisy in politics, and what Clegg and others have done in Government is unforgivable. They have abandond a generation that looked to them for leadership".

Peter Hain, Carwyn Jones and Gwenda Thomas were in the Senedd this morning to greet him. Come on in, the political water over here's lovely was the gist of their message to any other wobbling Lib Dems.

Proof that Mr Warman doesn't come across a man with an eye for the main chance? He referred to his new leader as Carwyn James in interviews afterwards.

Defections are always tricky for the party being cast asunder - it tends to look like sour grapes to trash the reputation of the leaver. The Lib Dems have done a more in sorrow than anger line this time round:

"It's very sad that he has gone back to the Labour Party that has wreaked havoc in the Welsh economy.

"John Warman is returning to a party that has left families in his ward paying thousands for their mishandling of the economy, ran our health system into the ground and made a sham of our education system."

And a sideways glance at the morning's events? The news that in Plaid's ranks, two and two had made five. Carwyn Jones ... Gwenda Thomas ... Peter Hain lining up to talk to the media? "We thought this was it - that she was off and he was in" said one very, very relieved source.


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