We've heard it time and time again in recent years - 'Labour councillor quits over bullying'. The rise of the hard left under Corbyn led to a toxic culture in many Constituency Labour Parties that did not tolerate anyone with moderate views. It wasn't just local councillors that quit, but MPs too. Frank Field, Luciana Berger, Ian Austin, Louise Ellman and Ivan Lewis are just a few who left the party quoting 'bullying' as one of the key reasons.
The latest party member to quit over Labour's bullying culture is a former councillor in Hyndburn, Lancashire. Gareth Molineux served as a cabinet member on Hyndburn Borough Council until his defeat in the 2019 local elections. Last Thursday he published his resignation letter on Facebook and he highlighted not only bullying within the CLP, but also harassment of the newly elected Tory MP for Hyndburn, Sara Britcliffe. The 25-year-old was elected on December 12, becoming the first Tory to represent the red wall seat since 1992. She has made no complaints about harassment from Labour activists, but you can bet your bottom dollar if she was a young female Labour MP being harassed by Tories it would have been headline news.
This is Gareth's letter.
I originally joined the Labour Party as a way of being able to contribute positively to my local community (Great Harwood, Hyndburn). I was even fortunate enough to represent the town on both Lancashire County Council and as a cabinet member at Hyndburn Borough Council.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time as an elected member and with my elected collegues achieved a number of great things, Including the regeneration of the Town Square, providing much needed housing for our residents and also helping our local football team secure monies to have fantastic playing and changing facilities, securing their long-term future, to name a few.
I have always prided myself on doing what was right for the area over my personal circumstances, no more so than when I supported the building of 215 houses on Public Open space, in an election year, as this would release millions of pounds to the council and the 106 monies involved would directly benefit the youth of the borough.
I am proud to have been the cabinet member for resources of the Council when it was recognised as one of the best run authorities in the country and when the taxpayer’s allegiance said we was 1 of only 7 Councils in the country that was “Value for Money”. We were also one of the first councils to introduce the National Minimum wage and we achieved all this whilst suffering some of the deepest cuts to local government budgets. The Council has been successful in bringing in jobs and new business’s and paid off all of its short-term debts. As with any area that as a significant amount of deprivation it has its challenges, but If left in its current form Hyndburn Council has a healthy future.
Therefore, it saddens me that I find myself writing this letter especially as this authority is Labour Controlled and has been for the past 9 years.
It is fair to say that it is not the running of the Council that I have great concerns with, but it is with the running of the Constituency Labour Party. I joined an Inclusive and democratic labour party, a party that believed it was ok to have differing views and strong debate was encouraged.
Unfortunately, it seems that democracy as we know it and the right to a differing opinion, is no longer welcome within the Hyndburn CLP. There is a culture of bullying, harassment and victimisation if you do not fall into line with the executive or the former MP. I have obviously been very vocal about their conduct especially towards their treatment of the newly elected Hyndburn and Haslingden MP Miss Sara Britcliffe, which as been personal, harassing and vindictive in its nature.
I firmly believe that if members disagree with Sara’s stance on an issue then debate that issue and try to prove her wrong in a grown up and mature fashion. not start stalking her facebook looking for pictures of her enjoying the limited down time that she has and trying to embarrass her on Social Media or by constantly trolling her and sending nasty vindictive emails.
I also disagree with their conduct towards the leader of the Council who has put politics to the side for now in the interest of the residents in Hyndburn. I see no benefit to the local area when a council leader and the MP that represents that area refusing to work together. This is grown up politics, this is what saves and changes lives.
It seems to me, that the CLP executive are more concerned about settling scores for personal revenge than they are in actually improving our area.
I am not going to go into detail about the way I have been treated over many years, by people within the party both at a constituency level and at a Lancashire wide level, other than on 2 occasions All woman shortlists where placed on my seats to prevent me from re-standing, resources pulled from my marginal seat into the seat of the MPS’s partner that we had no chance of winning, I have been removed from Labour Facebook pages for disagreeing with members views on their plots to victimise our MP’s and my name being blackened in the membership. I believe all of this bullying was designed to have me leave the party so that I could not hold them to account in the same way they hold others to account.
Well, after 3 years of this nonsense, they got what they wanted.
Please accept this letter as formal notification of my immediate resignation from the Labour Party.
|Ex-Labour member Gareth Molineux