Advertisement

Twenty Lancashire councillors quit Labour Party in protest over ‘bullying’ claims

The Labour Party said it was focusing on winning the next general election  (PA Wire)
The Labour Party said it was focusing on winning the next general election (PA Wire)

Twenty Lancashire councillors have resigned their Labour memberships after accusing Sir Keir Starmer and the national leadership of using “aggressive bullying tactics”.

The councillors each sit on Pendle Borough Council, Nelson Town Council or Brierfield Town Council, and claim the national Labour Party no longer represents them.

They claim the party is “targeting local councillors” by “preventing them from standing for elections” and will now form their own independent group.

Pendle Borough leader Asjad Mahmood, now the leader of the independent group, said in a statement: “I, along with my colleagues, were elected by local residents to represent them in the council chamber.

“As a Labour councillor, I have always felt that the party’s policies were aligned with my own beliefs and those of the constituents who have honoured me with their votes.

“Sadly, over a recent period, senior party officials have attempted to impose their ideas at a local level. I was elected to serve the public, not party officials.”

The Labour Party was facing opposition from some MPs over the use of the union flag on campaign material, according to reports (Getty)
The Labour Party was facing opposition from some MPs over the use of the union flag on campaign material, according to reports (Getty)

It comes after 11 councillors quit the party in Burnley over Sir Keir’s decision not to push for a ceasefire in Gaza in November last year.

Councillor Mohammed Iqbal, who was also among those who resigned, told BBC North West Today: “The party nationally seems to want to control who can stand where and when. We don’t think that’s right so we have taken the difficult decision to resign.”

The Labour Party said its “focus is on winning the next general election to improve the lives of those we are elected to serve”.

Last week, it was reported that Sir Keir was facing opposition from Bame Labour MPs over the use of the union flag on election campaign material.

One MP who spoke to The Guardian described free post campaign material as being “plastered with union jacks” and worried it would alienate ethnic minority voters.

In November, Burnley’s council leader quit the Labour Party just days after urging Sir Keir to resign as leader over his stance on the Israel-Hamas war. Councillor Afrasiab Anwar said it had been a “really difficult decision” to leave the Labour Party.

Mr Anwar and 10 other councillors decided to leave the party – describing their memberships as “untenable” given the leadership’s refusal to demand a ceasefire in the Middle East.

Sir Keir told reporters that his focus was on stopping the suffering in Gaza, not on the “individual positions” of party members.