May 20 2011 by Edwin Lawrence, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
AN INDEPENDENT councillor this week sensationally joined the SNP group.
Former Labour group leader Douglas Campbell jumped ship, insisting he’s impressed by his one time political opponents.
His decision is a massive coup for the SNP group, which, the Post believes, is set to snare a second Independent councillor within weeks.
Councillor Campbell said the Labour Party he once knew ‘has ceased to exist’.
And he praised ‘the dedication and commitment of the local SNP group and minority SNP government in delivering positive measures for the people and communities of north Ayr’.
Councillor Campbell added: “These measures include confronting Scotland’s attitude to alcohol, our ability to build council houses for the first time in a generation, and a generous financial contribution towards building a replacement for Ayr Academy, north of the River Ayr.”
If another Independent follows Councillor Campbell into the SNP group it would give the party 10 out of 30 South Ayrshire councillors.
And the party would be poised to seize power at next May’s council elections.
Councillor Campbell had fought under the Labour banner since being elected to Kyle and Carrick District Council in 1987.
He also worked as a party official, and had been election agent for George Foulkes when he was an MP.
Councillor Campbell took over as Labour group leader following the resignation of Councillor Andy Hill, late in 2005.
Labour were in disarray and back in opposition following a massive budget cash-gap crisis.
But things went from bad to worse when Councillor Campbell resigned the Labour leadership, and was forced out of the party, early in 2008, after his signature was forged by a fellow Labour councillor.
Councillor Campbell then became an Independent. But his experience has seen him remain chairman of South Ayrshire Licensing Board.
And he is also a member of South Ayrshire Council’s key leadership panel.
A minority Conservative administration of 12 councillors currently rules South Ayrshire.
But it has the working support of the other councillors, apart from six Labour.
Councillor Campbell held on to his Labour Party membership, despite becoming an Independent councillor.
And earlier this year he twice wrote to Labour leader Ed Milliband by recorded delivery.
He was seeking a party investigation into the forged signature incident.
But Mr Milliband did not reply. And Councillor Campbell said: “For a national political party to condone and collude with, what people would generally regard as, fraud is to my mind wholly unacceptable.
“It is a sad day when you cannot trust your colleagues who are elected to represent the families and communities of South Ayrshire.
“Even today the remaining members of the Labour Group believe that fraudulently signing my name on an official council document is something that any reasonable person would have done.”