Election hopeful: 'Why I quit Labour to stand as a Tory'
PUBLISHED: 14:06 06 December 2019 | UPDATED: 15:10 06 December 2019
A long-time Labour member who has switched allegiances in a bid to win Norwich South has slammed Jeremy Corbyn's party as "nasty".
Dr Mike Spencer backed Labour for two decades after his grandfather bought him party membership for his 15th birthday.
But he became disillusioned with Labour and quit in 2012 before joining their bitter political rivals just a year later. And now he says that although his grandfather might "raise an eyebrow from the clouds" he would understand why Dr Spencer has ditched Labour.
"One side of my family were Austro-Hungarian Jews and those that weren't able to escape in time were murdered in the Holocaust by the Nazis," he said. "My grandfather got out just in time.
"Both sides of my family were working class. But for me the Labour Party has become the nasty party. And it has been for quite some time. The party is very tribal.
"I think my grandfather would get it and the reasons I am standing for the Tories. He wasn't attracted to Labour as a banner - he dedicated his life to fighting fascism and when he came to the UK it was the natural fit.
"What he would see now is Labour is not the party he joined. He would see anti-Semitism and Labour people fighting against Labour people."
Dr Spencer is a psychiatrist who has put mental health at the centre of his campaign to beat Labour's Clive Lewis in Norwich South.
"The issue with parity of esteem for mental health is not a recent one," he added. "This is not party political. This is something to do with how mental health is regarded - particularly child mental health. And this has been the case for decades.
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"There is far greater recognition now than there ever has been - that is the positive. Campaigns like the this newspaper's and the prominence mental health got in the paper's manifesto have helped.
"Mental health consultations are about a third or more of all GP consultations. Whereas the funding mental health gets within the budget is about 10pc. I would want to focus on children in school - making sure vulnerable children get the funding needed to ensure the right help is available."
Other candidates include: Sandy Gilchrist (Brexit), Clive Lewis (Lab), Catherine Rowett (Green), James Wright (Lib Dem).