Senior Bedford Conservative defects to Lib Dems

Theresa May visiting Bedford to show support for Jas Parmar in 2012 when he was standing for election as police and crime commissioner
Theresa May visiting Bedford to show support for Jas Parmar in 2012 when he was standing for election as police and crime commissioner

One of Bedford Borough’s most senior Conservatives has switched to the Liberal Democrats.

Jas Parmar is a former deputy leader of the party at Bedford Borough Council.

Jas Parmar

Jas Parmar

He has also been the party’s candidate for Mayor of Bedford, stood to become the county’s first Police and Crime Commissioner, and was a parliamentary candidate in Warley in the 2010 general election.

But he said he no longer feels able to be part of the Conservative Party given how it has changed over recent years.

Mr Parmar said: “I didn’t leave the Conservatives so much as they left me.

“I left back in 2017, and given the way the party has gone since then I don’t think I could feel at home there anymore.

“My values haven’t changed, but those of the party have.”

Mr Parmar is a well-known figure in Kempston, not least as postmaster at the town’s post office. He caused a stir when he was first elected to Bedford Borough Council, as it meant defeating the then-deputy mayor and Labour group leader Shan Hunt.

But he is also a figure of some stature nationally, as a non-executive director of the East London Foundation Trust, and chairman of the National Asian Business Association.

He said that Brexit had been a key policy in further alienating him from the Conservative Party, although he also hinted at a lack of support from some sections of the party locally when he had stood for election.

“There were some good people, like Alistair Burt, who realised what was going on when I raised those issues,” said Mr Parmar. MP Mr Burt recently announced that he would not be standing for re-election at the next general election.

“There were supportive and sympathetic to what had happened - but much of the rest of the association did nothing about it.”

Mr Parmar said he had no plans to stand for election again in the immediate future.