That is the view from 20 Labour Councillors who have resigned today, citing a draconian shift in the national party, which is targeting local councillors, preventing them from standing for elections, and using aggressive bullying tactics to suppress fairness and free speech. This is the biggest single group of resignations from the Labour Party since Keir Starmer became leader.

The councillors have decided against joining any other political parties but will 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, Cllr 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.

Cllr 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.”

Cllr 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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