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Long-serving Lib Dem to stand as an independent

By This is Devon  |  Posted: April 07, 2011

DISAPPOINTED: Malcolm Prowse leaves the Lib Dems.

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A DYED-in-the-wool Liberal has abandoned his party on the eve of local elections, saying he is "heartbroken" by the way the coalition government is damaging the country.

Bratton Fleming member Malcolm Prowse will stand as an independent in the May poll.

Conservative Gordon Cumming and Green Party contender Ian Godfrey will also try to win the seat. No Lib Dem will stand against them.

Mr Prowse told the Journal: "I'm not happy with some of the things the coalition government has done, particularly to local government.

"I'm also not very happy about the proposals for health reforms.

He said financial cuts were destroying years of good local work.

"It's heartbreaking for me," he said. "Telling my parish council was the most difficult thing I have done.

"But it's not me that has changed. It's the party nationally which has changed its position."

Mr Prowse has been a key figure in local politics for decades and is steeped in Liberal history.

His mother, Lilian, was the election agent for Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe and his father, Jack, was a senior member of the North Devon Liberal Association.

He was thought to be the youngest constituency agent in the country in 1974 when, at the age of 21, he took the role for the Liberals in West Devon.

He became a Lib Dem district councillor in 1987 and spent 16 years as the leader of North Devon Council. That ended when the Conservatives took control in 2007.

By April 2009 he had become scathing of the Conservatives after they excluded non-Tories from positions of power.

Mr Prowse has been critical of recent council decisions on a range of matters, including Tesco and budgeting.

Last year he lost his place as the local leader of the Lib Dems, when fellow veteran Brian Greenslade was given the role.

Landkey, Swimbridge and Taw member Dave Butt has also abandoned the Lib Dems, as has Combe Martin councillor Yvette Gubb, who will stand as an independent.

Mr Butt, a former deputy-headteacher who lives in Pilton, has been a Lib Dem district councillor since 1987.

At one time he was the deputy-leader of the authority, working with Mr Prowse.

He will not stand because he is also severely disillusioned with the national party.

He disagreed with many decisions made by the government, particularly the move to increase tuition fees.

He said: "I'm disappointed with party politics, which is not about local things. I also think it's nonsense to have party politics at district level. I've had good working relationships with Conservatives.

"I think it would be dishonest to stand on a party ticket that I don't believe in."

North Devon MP Nick Harvey said it was disappointing to see people who had been Liberals for many years not stand for re-election but he did not see it as a sign of wider malaise.

See Comment – page 43.

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    Name Supplied, Combe Martin  |  April 17 2011, 5:58AM

    I notice no reason has been given by Yvette Gubb for her reasons for not standing as a Liberal Democrat in the forthcoming Parish & District elections. It may well be that as a result of her disastrous last tenure as a Parish Councilor the decision was not hers?

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    dave, bratton  |  April 14 2011, 4:56PM

    if," telling your parish is the most difficult thing you have ever done".............................. you must have had a very easy and sheltered life....typically liberal

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    John, Barnstaple  |  April 13 2011, 9:15AM

    Jeremy, in my opinion, this is because everyone knew what the Conservatives were like and what to expect. However, the Liberals promised to be different and when they went back on their promises and did a complete U turn and merely agreed with everything the Cons said (except AV) they said OK without consideration for their previous beliefs, principles etc which they had been spouting for many many years when not in government. Others may have other ideas but I believe this is why they are getting the backlash and not the conservatives.

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    Jeremy, N Devon  |  April 12 2011, 6:56PM

    I am not condoning the LDs and not saying I'd vote for them (though I have done sometimes in the past), but why are people giving them ALL the blame and completely ignoring the Tories? It is after all the Conservatives who are by far the larger of the 2 ruling parties, something like 6 to 1, so most of the decisions taken are conservative, not liberal. The LDs deserve some of the blame for going back on promises e.g. tuition fees, but let's not ignore the fact that it's the Conservatives who dominate what happens, the LDs far less so. If the LDs deserve criticism (which they indeed do), then the conservatives deserve more as they are the huge majority of the Govt. It is surprising how little press is given to this.

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    John, Barnstaple  |  April 11 2011, 8:42PM

    I also meant to say well done those who will leave a party that no longer stands for what they believe in.

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    JOhn, Barnstaple  |  April 11 2011, 8:35PM

    There are a lot of people who are not happy at what the Lib Dems said they stood for and what they actually signed up to once they gained power as part of the Con/Dem government. At least he is leaving the party. Many others merely tick the same box for Lib Dem time and time again but do they really think about what it means? Are they happy with the current cuts etc etc - if no send a great big message to them! If happy or apathetic then just mark X by the Lib Dem as usual.

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    Vince, Combe Martin  |  April 10 2011, 9:52PM

    I am always very weary of those who say they are independent. Makes me think they have hidden motives but then again like all Polititions and many Councillors they are only in office for themselves and what they can get!!

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    (G)rowing (0)ld (D)isgracefully, The Banana Republic of North Devon  |  April 07 2011, 7:12PM

    make a well know phrase or saying out of these words - SINKING ; RAT ; SHIP ; DESERT

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    Barumbelle, Barnstaple  |  April 07 2011, 3:12PM

    Never voted for him anyway!