20 Pendle councillors quit Labour Party in leadership protest

The leader of Pendle Council along with 19 councillors have resigned from the Labour party after accusing its national leadership of bullying.
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The group, which claims aggressive bullying tactics have been used to suppress fairness and free speech, said the Labour Party leadership no longer reflected their views.

The mass resignation is believed to be the largest defection under Sir Keir's Starmer’s leadership.

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The councillors will not be joining any other political parties, and will instead form independent groups on Pendle Borough Council, Brierfield Town Council, and Nelson Town Council.

Leader of Pendle Borough Council and the newly formed independent group, Coun. Asjad Mahmood, said: "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.”

Coun. Yvonne Tennant added: "At a time when 14 years of Tory cuts are affecting local people across Pendle, the Labour Party leadership should be allowing local hard-working councillors the opportunity to challenge the Tories. Instead, colleagues are being hindered from fulfilling their roles.”

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Coun. Mohammed Iqbal MBE added, "I was suspended from the party for 18 months before it was lifted in December 2023 for advocating on behalf of my constituents. I joined the Labour Party over 30 years ago and have always been encouraged to speak out on issues. However, senior figures within the party are attempting to stifle free speech and threaten dedicated councillors with removal as candidates. I, for one, cannot stand by and allow this to happen. The bullying needs to stop.”

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