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Scarborough Councillor Quits Labour Party Over Elphicke Defection

Monday, 13 May 2024 16:14

By Matthew Pells and Anttoni James Numminen, Local Democracy Reporter

North Yorkshire Councillor Rich Maw has quit the Labour Party saying he does not recognise the Labour Party under Sir Keir Starmer's leadership.

Rich Maw is the elected councillor for the Weaponness & Ramshill division on Norht Yorkshire Council and was previously a councillor on Scarborough Borough Council.

In a post on social meda Councillor Maw says he made the decision to quit the party after the leadership's decision last week to welcome the "ultra right-wing" Tory MP for Dover & Deal, Natalie Elphicke.

Councillor Maw said:

"Today, I have quit the Labour Party and I would like to explain to you why I have made my decision. I've never been someone who enjoys the tribalism of party politics. When Labour get it wrong, I like to be in a position to call them out. As an elected representative of the party this is no longer something which is routinely tolerated, especially to those of us who remain in the party and see themselves as of the left.

Keir Starmer's decision last week to welcome the ultra right-wing Tory MP for Dover & Deal, Natalie Elphicke shows a lack of political judgement and contempt for those hard working members and activists who work tirelessly under the Labour Party brand. Only last month, twenty Labour councillors in Lancashire resigned from the party citing Starmer's questionable leadership and dozens more have quit the party over his hesitation in supporting a ceasefire in Gaza.

Whilst Elphicke is welcomed with open arms we have life-long Labour MP's who've had the whip withdrawn. We have seen countless pledges overturned and a significant watering down of policies. Starmer's appalling lack of judgement on the Israel/ Palestine situation sits at odds with my values. The once proud party of  social justice I have always voted for and been a member of these last nine years is, in my view, shedding its core values at an alarming rate and apparently without bounds in the pursuit of electoral success.

Within a political party there has to be shared values. The Labour Party was formed to give working people a voice and has a proud history. It was principled. I do not share the values of Labour's newest MP. Nor do I share the values of Keir Starmer, whose focus-group decision making is unfortunately reminiscent of Marx (not Karl, but Groucho) - "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."

I do not recognise the Labour Party under Sir Keir Starmer's leadership.

So what happens now? Well, in my view it is the Labour Party which has rapidly moved away from the values which inspired me to join and to campaign on. I am an advocate for social justice, anti-austerity politics. I will continue to fight for those principles as an Independent North Yorkshire councillor who will, as ever, work full-time in placing the needs of residents first"

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, several of his Labour colleagues said they were “sorry to see him go” but added they did not envisage his decision impacting the Party on a local or regional level.

Many also said they were surprised at the decision which was reportedly not mentioned at a meeting of Labour councillors held last week.

Labour Coun John Ritchie (Woodlands division) said:

“[Coun Maw] has his views and if he feels he’s no longer able to stay within the Party, then I think it’s a shame.

“I still feel Keir Starmer offers the leadership that is needed for today’s Party and that it is still a Party of working people.”

Labour Coun Liz Colling (Falsgrave and Stepney division) said she was

“sorry he has chosen to leave”

“I worked well with him and look forward to welcoming him back”.

A Labour Party spokesperson told the LDRS:

“Under Keir Starmer’s leadership, the Labour Party has changed and is firmly in the service of working people.

“We are ready to turn the page on this chaotic government at the general election and take the country forward.”

Labour’s Coun Neil Swannick (Whitby Streonshalh division) said he was “very disappointed” as

“he’s been a good member of the team and he’ll be missed”.

Labour Coun Eric Broadbent (Northstead division) said:

“I would imagine he has been thinking about it for a while… and while our views as councillors mainly deal with local issues rather than national ones, politics being politics, national issues get in the way.”

 “I’m sad that he has left and I wish him the best of luck.”

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