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Lib Dems react to election 'wipe out' in Waltham Forest
The Liberal Democrats have reacted to a night of political “slaughter” which left the party with no seats on Waltham Forest council.
In a reflection of a disastrous election night for the party nationally, voters in the borough banished the Lib Dems to four years in the political wilderness as Labour retained control of the council.
The party lost all six of its seats after holding the balance of power at the town hall in a coalition with Labour as recently as 2010.
Group leader Bob Sullivan, who had served as a Leyton councillor for 32 years, was pushed into fourth place behind Labour, with just 12 per cent of the vote.
Senior Lib Dem Farooq Qureshi also lost his seat in Forest ward to the ruling party, which strengthened its hold on power.
Mr Sullivan laid the blame squarely at the coalition government and hinted at disillusionment with the party’s national leadership, saying he believed the Lib Dems had become too closely associated with the Conservatives.
He said: “People in Walthamstow, Leyton and Leytonstone don’t like the Conservatives and at a national level the Liberal Democrats were in bed with the Tories.
“We got slaughtered – well and truly thumped.”
Farooq Qureshi believes the national party has let activists down.
He said: “I served with the best of my ability and tried to look after the area and residents but the people obviously no longer require my services.
“The national direction of the party has let us down and people wanted change so good luck to them.
“I do think there should have been some consideration for the party at a local level as we fought hard to make changes and listen to the people.
“There is plenty of time to think about the future but it is highly unlikely I will stand as a councillor again.
“I served with honour and dignity and did everything a councillor could do and should do. I haven’t got the heart to go back and face the same defeat after a decade. I have nothing new to offer.
“We were a barrier between Labour and the Conservatives and that constructive criticism will no longer be there. Good luck to the new councillors, I hope they can serve the people better.
Mahmood Hussain, served in High Street ward for one term.
He said: “It was a disaster unfortunately. I think we were let down by some of the policies implemented at the national level.
“The government should have reduced the tuition fees and found a better way around the bedroom tax rather than hitting people hard.
“I told people in my ward that we are a local party and will tackle local issues, but the government’s cuts agenda must have stuck in their minds.”
Patrick Smith stood for the Liberal Democrats in Higham Hill, where the party were thrashed by Labour, who polled 67 per cent of the vote.
Mr Smith said it was a sad day for the community.
“My greatest fear is the loss of all Liberal Democrat councillors in one election now means that the council will not have the Lib Dem scrutiny on behalf of fairness and equality in public accountability.”
Labour took 44 of a possible 60 seats, with the Tories taking the rest.
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