FORMER Labour colleagues have poured scorn on former Wrexham MP and AM John Marek for his switch of allegiance to the Welsh Conservatives.
The move, announced yesterday at the town’s Ramada Hotel, saw Dr Marek welcomed to the party by Welsh Tory leader in the Assembly, Nick Bourne, and Shadow Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan MP.
And Dr Marek, who served as Wrexham’s MP from 1983 until 1999 and AM from 1999 until 2007, said he did not rule out standing as a Conservative candidate in the Assembly elections in a year’s time.
He said he had made the decision to join the Conservatives as only they could deliver change after “13 years of Labour failure”.
Dr Marek added: “David Cameron’s social conscience is at the heart of my decision to join the Conservative party.
“He understands the difficulties faced by ordinary people and I am convinced that as Prime Minister he will govern for everybody.”
But Dr Marek’s move has drawn heavy fire from Labour.
His successor as Wrexham Labour MP, Ian Lucas, said: “I think this is extraordinary news but it is very appropriate that John Marek has joined the millionaires’ party.
“His credibility was already low and now, having moved from a far-left agitator backed by the RMT straight to the Tories, it is non-existent.
“In fact, I believe this move to the Conservatives will make him a laughing stock.
“Wrexham people had put a lot of faith in him and he let them down.”
Martyn Jones, MP for Clwyd South, said: “For those who know John Marek this is not the least bit surprising. It is hard to know who is the most desperate for publicity – the Tory party in Wrexham or John Marek himself.
“How anyone can think David Cameron knows what the ordinary people of North Wales needs is an absolute joke.”
A Welsh Labour Party spokesman added: “Any port in a storm is the phrase that springs to mind.”
But Dr Marek refuted the criticism, saying he remained a committed trade unionist and that his priority was tackling poverty.
He told the Leader: “I will expect smears from the Labour Party. I have not spoken to Martyn Jones for two or three years but it would be nice if his criticism was on substantial points of policy.
“Smearing lowers the political debate further and I will not react to it.”
At yesterday’s Press conference, Dr Marek said he had never regretted his decision to part company with Labour.
He said: “I am joining a party which has changed, which has ideas, energy and vision, and which is serious about changing this country’s fortunes after 13 years of Labour failure.
“New Labour has lost all purpose and authority – facts clearly demonstrated in the sight last week of former ministers seemingly more worried about lining their own pockets than serving the people who elected them.
“The country needs change and in Wales we need a multi-party democracy which has been denied to us for too long.
“I am pleased to be joining the Conservative Party which is now in the centre of the political spectrum and on a number of issues is to the left of Labour.”
Asked by the Leader if he would consider standing for election as a Welsh Conservative, Dr Marek said: “It has crossed my mind but I have made no decision yet about standing for a place in the Assembly.
“It’s a question of watch this space.”
Nick Bourne said: “I hope he will consider standing for the Assembly but that is entirely a matter for the party to consider.”
Neither the Conservative leadership nor Dr Marek could give any indication of whether he would play a specific role in the run-up to the general election.
See full story in the Leader