The Independent London Newspaper


Ex-mayor Joan Coupland quits Labour, saying ‘I jumped before I was pushed’

Joan Coupland

Published: 12 August 2011

A FORMER Islington mayor whose daughter is fighting claims of expenses fraud has dramatically switched from Labour to Independent.

St Mary’s ward councillor Joan Coupland decided to resign from the party on grounds of “disenchantment” with Labour and lack of support for the “plight” of her daughter, Shelley, a former Labour councillor.
Cllr Coupland, who lives on the Popham estate at Angel, made the move this week on the eve of a crucial by-election in St Peter’s ward to choose a replacement for daughter Shelley.
Her daughter, who stood down as a councillor last month, appeared at Southwark Crown Court on Friday to answer criminal charges, which she denies. She is due to return to court in January. 
Cllr Coupland, 69, a former nurse who has been dogged by ill health, defected to Labour from the Lib Dems in 2006. She was Mayor of Islington in 2005.
Speaking about her switch from Labour to Independent, she said: “I suppose I jumped before I was pushed. They would have tried to de-select me at some point. I feel I have been ostracised and victimised by the Labour group.
“With a few noble exceptions, I have been ignored by the Labour group and things got worse after Shelley’s problem emerged.”
Cllr Coupland is a diabetic with blood clots on her legs. Her condition deteriorated after she was attacked 18 months ago by a youngster brandishing a scaffolding pole.
She added: “The Labour group has not supported Shelley, even though she is pleading not guilty and plans to fight the case every inch of the way.”
Cllr Coupland, who has represented St Mary’s for almost 14 years, said she will continue to fight for those in her ward. 
“I’ve been a Lib Dem and I’ve been a Labour supporter,” she said. “I’m disillusioned with Labour and I don’t know enough yet about the Tory-Lib Dem coalition. But I’m not happy with politics at the moment.”
Whether she stands again at the next local election as an Independent will depend on her health. 
“It will also depend on whether the voters want me to stand,” she said.
“My main concerns will be the elderly and the disabled, who have had a bad deal under Labour. 
“We’ve lost the PlusBus, which transported the elderly and disabled around the borough, and money to old people’s centres has been cut. Yet a third of the borough is over 65.”
Asked where she will sit in the council chamber as a new Independent member, Cllr Coupland said: “As far away from everyone else as possible.”
Councillor Kate Groucutt, Labour group chief whip, said: “I am sorry that Cllr Joan Coupland has decided to resign from the Labour group for personal reasons but wish her well for the future. 
“At this time, our priority is keeping people and property in Islington safe and that is what we will continue to focus on.”


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