Senior Conservative Councillor Crosses Floor To Join Reading Labour

David Stevens, councillor for Thames ward on Reading Borough Council, has announced today that he is crossing the floor to join the Labour Party.

Cllr Stevens was first elected to the Council, as a Conservative, in 2004 and recently served as Reading’s Mayor from May 2020 to November 2021. He was a long-serving member of the Conservative front bench and, latterly, the Opposition’s Finance spokesperson.

Cllr David Stevens said:

“Just 6 weeks ago I was handing over the chain after an 18-month stint as the town’s mayor, which had been a particularly turbulent time for Reading. During my time in office, I had come to work more closely with many of the Labour Councillors and this experience helped confirm that we held in common a fundamental political outlook – that working for the common good of the people of Reading always comes first, and that our town’s success will never be assured until every resident can share in its success.

“A week after my mayoral term had ended, the local Conservatives determined that I would not be a candidate at the forthcoming local elections, in large part because I was too keen to take a constructive and collaborative approach in opposition on the Council. The truth, of course, is that my style was precisely because my values and Reading Labour’s values were so closely aligned. I never sought to be antagonistic in order to simply score political points or seek a partisan advantage – the responsibility that Councillors have for their community is too important for such games.

“In that context, I am delighted to now be joining Labour, and to be welcomed into a Group of Councillors who I like and respect. I am not making the move to find some transitory new home but, rather, because I endorse the positive and forward-looking vision that Labour has for Reading. I am excited, even enthusiastic, to play my part in that endeavour.”

Cllr Jason Brock, Leader of Reading Borough Council, and the Reading Labour Group Leader, said:

“It is clearly a reflection of the confidence and trust that David has in Labour to do right by Reading that he has decided to provide us with the greatest possible endorsement in joining our Group. I would also say this news is evidence that Labour is on the right track nationally, demonstrating a serious and competent alternative to the Conservatives.

“David was not some marginal figure in the Council’s Opposition but, rather, someone known for his sincere approach to politics as an experienced and thoughtful councillor, and someone who is much respected and admired on all sides of the chamber. We greatly look forward to working with him, and to drawing on his knowledge and talents, as we push forward our programme of investment in Reading and continue to protect vital local services in the face of the Government’s underfunding of Councils.”