Independent Socialist Group of councillors formed on Haringey Council

In launching the Independent Socialist Group on Haringey Council we believe that we can best represent residents in our wards and the people of Haringey more generally free of the shackles of the Labour whip. Labour nationally, and in London, is becoming ever more authoritarian towards its members, a move that does not put it in a good place in local government or indeed when it holds the keys to 10 Downing Street.

Labour should stand for the devolution of power and authority, locally and nationally, not the centralisation of power in an authoritarian leadership group. Labour should trust its members and the people, which is not currently the case.

Each of us has our specific differences with Labour under Keir Starmer’s leadership. Chief among these are:
• the exclusion of Jeremy Corbyn MP from the Parliamentary Labour Party
• the gerrymandering of the selection of Labour council candidates in Haringey 2021/22
• the abandonment by Starmer of the 10 progressive pledges he published in his leadership campaign, seemingly the pledges were mere campaign slogans.

We were all particularly concerned that Labour, under Starmer, having commissioned a report by Martin Forde KC examining allegations of racism within the Party has essentially ignored all of Forde’s 165 recommendations. Forde established that there was a hierarchy of racism within the Labour Party which is very disturbing to us as councillors in one of the most ethnically diverse boroughs in the country.

For us, matters were brought to a head by the most recent events in Palestine and Israel and Labour’s apparent inability to call for a ceasefire. No injustice, no matter how heinous, in this case the 7 October incursion into Israel by Hamas, can ever be used as an excuse to commit another.

Keir Starmer has provided unequivocal support for Israeli military action in Gaza, upheld its so-called right to deny Palestinians, food, water, medicine and electricity and failed to condemn Israeli actions as mounting breaches of international law are occurring.

History teaches us that military solutions are usually unobtainable or not sustainable. A ceasefire, facilitated by the UN, leading to a negotiated settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis should be the aim of all nations.

A ceasefire must be the first prerequisite to a pathway to negotiations to ensure the safe return of the civilian hostages and the provision of the essentials of life for the people of Gaza.

The siege on Gaza must be lifted because it is an act of collective punishment and is therefore in breach of international law. The leadership of the Labour Party should be calling for an immediate ceasefire but Keir Starmer and Tottenham MP David Lammy will not make such a call, hiding behind the fig leaf of a “humanitarian pause.”

We absolutely reject any conflation of support for the plight of the Palestinians, including the display of Palestinian flags, with support for “terrorism.”

Therefore, we have all resigned as members of the Labour Party and consequently resigned the Labour whip on Haringey Council. We hope that we can make links with groups of councillors across the country who have resigned from Labour in circumstances similar to ours, particularly in Oxford and Burnley.

We will continue to represent residents as members of the Independent Socialist Group.

Cllr Mark Blake, Fortis Green
Cllr Lotte Collett, Woodside
Cllr Mary Mason, Bounds Green

November 7, 2023

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