Labour fail to win a single seat as Gaza defections means independents come out on top in Pendle Borough Council elections

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It was an uncharacteristally bad day for Labour in Pendle as the party failed to win a single seat in the borough council elections.

As in neighbouring Burnley, the local Labour group recently saw a swathe of resignations from its councillors in protest over the national party’s stance on the Gaza crisis.

Standing as independents, the former Labour councillors were emphatically re-elected. Labour, meanwhile, failed to win a single seat on the day. The Tories won four seats and the Liberal Democrats three.

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One of them was the former Labour leader on Pendle Council, Asjad Mahmood, who was re-elected to the Whitefield and Walverden ward, and must now seek talks with either the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats in a power-sharing deal.

The triumphant Independent Group on Pendle Borough Council, May 2024The triumphant Independent Group on Pendle Borough Council, May 2024
The triumphant Independent Group on Pendle Borough Council, May 2024

The previous composition of the council, following the defections from Labour, was 13 Conservatives, 10 Independent Group, seven Liberal Democrats and two independent councillors.

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Another former Pendle Labour leader, Mohammed Iqbal, suspended by the party but re-elected in the Bradley ward, had a stark message for national leader Sir Keir Starmer.

He said: “The results today in Pendle send two messages. The first is to the national Labour Party and to leader Sir Keir Starmer that he can’t take people for granted. It’s time that he listened to the grassroots of the party over Gaza.

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“The Labour Party, historically, has stood against injustice and needs to do so again in Gaza. Keir Starmer needs to be more clear on calling for a two-state solution.

“Secondly, the other message from today is that the Conservative vote has completely collapsed.”

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