Spelthorne Labour councillors resign in protest at party’s direction


Labour Party representation on Spelthorne Council has been cut in half

Spelthorne Borough Council has lost half of its Labour Party councillors, who have been forbidden from showing any support for former national party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The former group leader Veena Siva, and former deputy Jenny Vinson, said they are stepping down due to misgivings about current leader Sir Keir Starmer, who they claim “has succeeded in tearing the party apart”.

In retaliation, Spelthorne Labour said they should give up their seats on the council, and expect them to repay their campaign expenses on quitting the party, 20 months after the election.

Cllrs Siva and Vinson say they will remain on Spelthorne Borough Council (SBC) in a new independent group, and “continue to defend policies promised to their ward residents” in 2019.

A joint statement reads: “After a great deal of agonising and soul-searching, we have been left with no option but to resign from the Labour Party.

“For some months now, we have been concerned about the direction the party has taken, as we see Keir Starmer and other members of the shadow cabinet row back on a number of policies in the Labour manifesto.”

The group pointed to the fact constituency Labour parties (CLPs) had been prevented from tabling motions showing solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn, and threatened with suspension if they did so.

Jeremy Corbyn large
There is clear evidence of factional activity by senior paid employees of the party against the elected leadership of the time” as well as “apparent sabotage

Jeremy Corbyn, led the Labour party for nearly five years, standing down after the 2019 general election that witnessed Labour losing 60 parliamentary seats, 52 of which were leave voting constituencies, for many, this was a foregone conclusion after Sir Keir Starmer’s Brexit policy included a second referendum following a Labour win.

In October 2020 Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour Party suspended former leader Jeremy Corbyn pending an investigation following a statement made by Mr corbyn responding to the Equality and Human Rights Commission report after there release.

The former leader posted on social media: “Anyone claiming there is no antisemitism in the Labour Party is wrong. Of course there is, as there is throughout society, and sometimes it is voiced by people who think of themselves as on the left.

My statement following the publication of the EHRC report: “Antisemitism is absolutely abhorrent, wrong and responsible for some of humanity’s greatest crimes. As Leader of the Labour Party, I was always determined to eliminate all forms of racism and root out the cancer of antisemitism. I have campaigned in support of Jewish people and communities my entire life and I will continue to do so.

“The EHRC’s report shows that when I became Labour leader in 2015, the Party’s processes for handling complaints were not fit for purpose.

Reform was then stalled by an obstructive party bureaucracy. But from 2018, Jennie Formby and a new NEC that supported my leadership made substantial improvements, making it much easier and swifter to remove antisemites. My team acted to speed up, not hinder the process.

“Anyone claiming there is no antisemitism in the Labour Party is wrong. Of course there is, as there is throughout society, and sometimes it is voiced by people who think of themselves as on the left.“

Jewish members of our party and the wider community were right to expect us to deal with it, and I regret that it took longer to deliver that change than it should.“One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.

That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated. “My sincere hope is that relations with Jewish communities can be rebuilt and those fears overcome. While I do not accept all of its findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period.”

A Labour spokesperson at the time said: “In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation. He has also had the whip removed from the Parliamentary Labour Party.”

The former Labour leader was suspended at the end of October a panel from the party’s ruling National Executive Committee voted to readmit Jeremy Corbyn as and remove his suspension, however, Sir Keir Starmer said he would not automatically get the Labour whip back and despite the ruling from the NEC refusal to let Mr Corbyn back into the parliamentary Labour party. This sparked consternation among Labour members and supporters along with Jeremy Corbyn’s allies.

starmer losing members 1
Labour exodus in protest at suspension of Jeremy Corbyn

Labour has lost members at a rate of nearly 250 a day since Sir Keir Starmer was elected last spring, with supporters of Jeremy Corbyn leading an exodus from the party. This is before Starmer’s personal decision to keep the whip from his former boss and Leader of the Labour Party.

Membership fell by just under 57,000 people, or 10 per cent, between April and November, according to official figures from its internal elections. Sir Keir Starmer was elected leader of the party in April this year since then the Party have seen an Exoudos of members who no longer feel the Party represents Labour values.

In contrast, the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn oversaw a surge in new members making the Labour Party the biggest Party in western Europe and reviving its membership from the losses seen after the devastating centrist take over under Blair and Brown. The current figures mark the first time the party has had less than 500,000 members since 2016.

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Labour Party membership

To date Jeremy Corbyn has still not been readmitted into the Labour Party, the whip being removed at Sir Keir Starmer’s pleasure.

We were elected by voters who support the policies in Labour’s manifesto and we cannot in good conscience remain in the party when these policies are not being honoured

Councillor Jenny Vinson Councillor Veena Siva
“We were elected by voters who support the policies in Labour’s manifesto and we cannot in good conscience remain in the party when these policies are not being honoured.”

Cllrs Siva and Vinson described Corbyn as “a much respected leader who still retains huge support amongst the membership”.

Staines councillor Siva said: “We were elected by voters who support the policies in Labour’s manifesto and we cannot in good conscience remain in the party when these policies are not being honoured.”

Cllr Vinson, who represents Staines South, added: “We consider that we can no longer remain as representatives of the Labour Party as it does not represent the best interests of the vast majority of people in this country.”

Spelthorne Labour Party said they were “surprised and disappointed” by the resignations.

Sue Doran and John Doran, who both represent Stanwell North, are now the only Labour Party councillors sitting on SBC.

Cllr Sue Doran, new Labour group leader, said it had “come out of the blue”.

Labour Surrey county councillor Robert Evans said the first he knew of the resignations was when he saw it on social media.

“I was working closely with Veena, speaking to her very recently, helping with a motion on the fire service for Spelthorne council,” he said. “I’m surprised she said nothing about this to me.”

Cllrs Siva and Vinson made no comment about paying back campaign expenses.

Sue Bryer also resigned as chair of Spelthorne Labour. She too gave the reason as a change in direction of the party leadership. “It is right that the executive baton of our CLP should be handed over to those that share the direction of the leadership,” she said.

The Labour Party and Sir Keir Starmer were contacted for comment.

Source Article taken from the Surry Live Julie Armstrong

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