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From: The Socialist issue 1118, 27 January 2021: Covid spreading, poverty rising, rich get richer, fight for socialism!

Search site for keywords: Surrey - Councillors - Labour - Labour Party - Manifesto - Human rights - Jeremy Corbyn - Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Councillors in Surrey resign from Labour and look to stand independently

Two Spelthorne Borough councillors; Veena Siva, Jenny Vinson, and CLP chair Sue Bryer, have resigned from the Labour party ahead of May's local council elections. They have entered into discussions with the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition about standing as part of the coalition. They have issued a statement explaining their decision and we print extracts from that statement.

Fighting against austerity in Surrey in 2018

Fighting against austerity in Surrey in 2018   (Click to enlarge)

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. This includes pledges Keir Starmer himself made in his leadership campaign with respect to social and economic justice, human rights, and uniting the party, to name but a few.

We were horrified by Starmer's failure to oppose the so-called 'Spycops' bill, which threatens human rights by allowing state agents to commit crimes in order to stay undercover; as well as the Tories' Overseas Operation Bill, which implements a 'triple lock' of measures designed to make it close to impossible to prosecute British troops five years after crimes.

Starmer then sacked three members of the shadow cabinet for voting against the bill.

Labour's 2019 manifesto stated that "Labour will end and reverse privatisation in the NHS in the next parliament", and yet Keir Starmer felt it was appropriate to appoint a lobbyist for the private health sector as his director of communications.

Furthermore, instead of uniting the party, Keir Starmer has endorsed the decision to suspend Jeremy Corbyn. As a result, a number of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) have passed motions of no confidence in Keir Starmer and David Evans, general secretary of the Labour Party.

The final straw, which led us to leave the Labour Party, has been the suppression of free speech, debate and democracy in the party. Evans issued emails preventing CLPs from tabling motions showing solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn or calling for the restoration of the whip. CLPs and members have been threatened with suspension if they exercise their democratic right to table these 'forbidden' motions or even discuss the topics concerning them.

Cllr Veena Siva says: "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. We believe in these policies and will be carrying out our term following through on the principles of social and economic justice, human rights and working in the best interests of residents."

Cllr Jenny Vinson believes "Keir Starmer does not want the party to be an opposition to the Tories, in fact he comes across as their cheerleader. 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."

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