The one thing that Adrian Ramsay, co-ordinator of the Greens at City Hall, has been remarkably good at is encouraging defections from other parties ... well, Labour and the LibDems anyway. Although no sitting member has crossed the floor, all of these defectors are big players in their now-former parties. If you want to find political activists, I suppose the best way is to find other activists and get them to join your side!
Today I learnt thay Paul McAlenan, LibDem Councillor 1999-2004, has quit the LibDems to back Ramsay as our potential Green consistuency MP. So what? Well, McAlenan was part of the "Nelson mafia" a group of young LibDem activists that were active in the late 90s just as I got into politics. Heavily armed with Focus leaflets and some vicious Bar Charts they decimated Labour and crushed the Tories, winning first Nelson Ward and then St. Stephens which seemed to fall with relative ease. McAlenen and friends represented the young, confident edge which surrounded the LibDems before they dramatically siezed control from Labour. McAlenan, along with Billy Boulton and Sarah Mitchell, were the modern and successful face of the party.
Then along came Ramsay and the Greens swept the board in the ward and Nelson elected its fourth party in twenty years. So to have picked up the endorsement of McAlenan is good work for Ramsay - he's a tribal LibDem and to secure his backing shows us either the lure of the Greens or the complete shambles which the Norwich LibDems have become, losing council seats, former councillors and activists. If I were Ramsay, I'd want McAlenan casting his expert eye over his election material. If I were Simon Wright, I'd be extremely worried about this. It looks more and more like he'll only have the North Norfolk LibDems to prop up his piss-poor campaign.
So, where are they now? We hear nothing of Sarah Mitchell now (expect Ramsay to be working his charm) and Billy Boulton famously attempted a come-back to the Council by taking over the LibDem Town Close seat from Derek Wood, which he went on to lose to the Greens on a massive swing. Nelson LibDems is now run by David Fairbairn who has led the party in the ward from calamity to distaster with the Greens now on 62% of the vote.