Chris Williamson’s Tory love-in: backbencher formed alliance with Conservatives as Labour leader of Derby council

Firebrand MP Chris Williamson formed a Labour-Tory alliance when he was leader of Derby City Council after Labour lost its majority in local elections.

Firebrand MP Chris Williamson formed a Labour-Tory alliance when he was leader of Derby City Council after Labour lost its majority in local elections.

Williamson, who signed up to the Pidcock Doctrine this week by stating he could never befriend a Tory, led Derby in coalition with the Tories for nearly two years from 2006.

The deal was struck after the local elections in May of that year, when a third of the city’s councillors stood for reelection.

The Tories and Lib Dems both made gains. Under the deal struck by Williamson, three Tory councillors joined the cabinet and Williamson remained leader.

Archived copies of the Derby City Council website show that Williamson was leader of a Conservative – Labour alliance from at least May 2006 to March 2008, with Williamson sitting alongside Tory councillors in cabinet throughout that period.

The arrangement was slammed by the Liberal Democrats in a press release issued at the time the Tory-Labour alliance was agreed on May 9 2006.

It attacked Williamson for joining a “coalition of losers” – claiming that “many Labour and Conservative voters will be furious with their parties for abandoning their principles to keep hold of a bit of power”.

The notion that pragmatism might win out over principle is anathema to Williamson, who floated the idea that council tax on the wealthiest homes should be doubled under a Labour government shortly before he resigned as Shadow fire minister earlier this year.

The committed Corbynista rarely talks about his time as Derby leader. He appears to have omitted this detail from biographies on his Twitter and Facebook profiles.

Before he was reelected to Parliament in 2017, he described himself as “leader of Derby City Council on two separate occasions” but did not provide the dates when he was in power.

The political climate was completely different a decade ago and many will argue Williamson was right to hold his nose and sit alongside Tories in order to keep Labour in power in Derby.

But others might wonder why a man who boasts he’s “never kissed a Tory” was willing to jump into bed with three of them.

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