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Former Lib Dem Councillor pops-up in suburbia

March 14, 2011

Every so often people have asked us “whatever happened to Arnie Gibbons”? He was one of 3 Lib Dem Councillors who represented Caledonian Ward between 2002 and 2006. Even his former fellow Lib Dem Councillors from that time had lost touch. He lived at Thornhill Bridge Wharf for a few years but completely disappeared from view after the 2006 local elections when Labour won back Caledonian Ward. We think he moved away sometime in 2008.

But now he has popped-up as a Councillor in the London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames representing Whitton Ward – which is roughly half way between Twickenham and Hounslow.

This means that Arnie has been a Councillor in three different places in England during the past ten years. When standing for Islington Council in May 2002, he was still a serving Councillor in the city of Leicester. He got onto Islington Council then by a whisker. But in 2006 the Lib Dems were beaten by Labour’s team. Arnie had also fallen out with his leader, Steve Hitchens. Despite being one of the leading Lib Dem Councillors, it is said that he complained he “couldn’t get anywhere with Steve in shifting money to the Cally”. Hitchens was also defeated in May 2006.

Arnie was one of the full-time paid Executive Councillors for all 4 years he was on the Council.  This allowed him the time to concentrate on being the Lib Dem’s Agent in their 2005 General Election campaign. Despite his efforts, Labour’s Emily Thornberry won the south Islington parliamentary seat.

Rupert Perry adds “I suppose this tells a story about the Lib Dems these days – their Councillors are like nomads wandering from one vaguely winnable seat to another. Arnie now represents a highly affluent neighbourhood in deep suburban outer West London – a ward that usually elects Tories to their Council. Rather different from the Cally”.

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