Cllr Ralph Baldwin, of Mayesbrook Ward in Barking and Dagenham, has been suspended from the Labour Party and now sits as an independent. This was after he proposed campaigning for the Conservatives – he made this suggestion in an email to Will Straw. Not unreasonably the Labour Party decided that campaigning for the Conservatives breached their rules.

Labour got a clean sweep in Barking and Dagenham at the elections last year wiping out the BNP but also the Conservatives. In a one party state the sensible response is to allow more freedom to back benchers to challenge the executive. Cllr Baldwin's account is that this has not happened. He has proposed "crossing the floor" on the basis that he is "miffed" with the Labour Party. But if he does not hold Conservative views (it is not clear to me whether he does or not) then it is right for him to be an independent.

Not that the council is all bad. Their leader Cllr Liam Smith took a robust attitude to the August rioters – backing the eviction of thse convicting from council homes.