A VETERAN politician has resigned from the Liberal Democrats after more than 60 years as a member, saying the party has "no prospect" of gaining power at a national level.

Chris Foote Wood has ditched the party in favour of Labour in the hope of influencing social change in the region.

The 77-year-old writer, lecturer and actor, who lives in Darlington, has contested eight parliamentary and six European elections.

He also stood for elected mayor of Middlesbrough in 2011, losing to independent Ray Mallon and last year stood to be the Tees Valley Mayor but lost out to Conservative Ben Houchen.

He said: “The results of the last two general elections have convinced me – beyond all reasonable doubt – that the Liberal Democrats have lost all credibility as a party of government.

“After much thought and study, I have come to the inevitable conclusion that there is no possibility whatsoever of the Liberal Democrats returning to government in the next few years.

“All my life I have campaigned for social justice and a fairer society. There is no chance of us achieving that under a continuing Tory government that all too clearly is there for the rich and powerful, to the detriment of the great majority of our people.

“Under the present electoral system, one of only two parties can gain a majority – Tory or Labour. The Liberal Democrats have some good policies. So too do the Greens. But good policies are no good if you do not have the power to implement them. That’s just wishful thinking.”

Mr Foote Wood was a Bishop Auckland district councillor for 40 years and was leader of Wear Valley council for six years.

His late wife Frances was Northern regional secretary of the party for 20 years.

He said: “The next general election will be crucial for the future of our country. Given only two choices for a party of government, for me our only chance for social progress will be the election of a majority Labour government.

“So it is with deep regret and after months of soul-searching and careful consideration, that I have decided to resign from the Liberal Democrats and join the Labour Party.

“I have no expectations of taking any position in the party, but from now on I will be doing my best as an ordinary member to get Labour into power at the next election.”

Mr Foote Wood studied civil engineering at King’s College in Durham, and became a bridge-builder, working on the A1(M) the A19 Tees flyover.