A Barnet borough councillor has defected to the Conservatives, claiming Labour is “no longer the party for equality and justice”.

Councillor Ansuya Sodha, who represents West Hendon, resigned from the opposition group on Barnet Borough Council before Christmas, and joined the Conservatives at last night's full council meeting.

Labour members sat in stony silence as Tory councillors gave a huge round of applause and began chanting ‘hip, hip hooray’.

Cllr Sodha said she had been a “loyal, active and devoted” member of the Labour Party for more than 20 years, and a councillor for the past 16.

She added: “The party is not the same party I joined all those years ago. I am absolutely clear that I have not changed - it is the Labour Party that has changed.

“It is no longer the party for equality and justice, especially when it comes to the Asian, Indian community.

“They are short of ideas, inspiration and judgement. Their selection process is flawed and when they say they give equal opportunity to all, that is just lip service."

She also voiced her disappointment at Labour’s opposition to the West Hendon regeneration and the controversial ‘One Barnet’ scheme.

She said: “The few people who could uplift and reinvigorate the party have been sidelined and treated with scant respect. 

“Labour only wants to blame others for all the problems rather than looking at these issues in a realistic, professional manner. Playing the blame game is not in the best interests of the people.

"The Tory values of helping hard-working people, businesses and families are what is going to help people. I feel our children will have better futures under the Tories.”