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Bradford
Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Conservative Councillor says success of Independents “not something that should be celebrated.”

The Leader of Bradford’s Conservative group has argued that conflicts thousands of miles away should not dominate local elections.

Last week, Labour lost a number of Bradford Council seats to candidates standing on a pro Gaza platform in the local Council elections.

Despite the results denting the majority of her political rivals in Labour, Councillor Rebecca Poulsen, Conservative leader in Bradford, argues the success of the independents “is not something that should be celebrated,” and that Councillors in Bradford will have no influence on decisions made by political leaders in the Middle East.

But one Councillor has hit back at the claim seats were won solely on Gaza, saying the Independents who won seats in Bradford campaigned on local issues, and not just international ones.

The Conservatives lost three seats in Thursday’s local elections, meaning they now have just 13 representatives in the Council chamber.

At the same time numerous Independent candidates won seats from Labour – taking the number of Independents to 13.

The Labour group retained its majority on the Council – it now has 49 Councillors, but the success of the independents saw high profile Councillors such as Abdul Jabar (Lab, Great Horton), a member of the Council’s leadership team, lose their seats to Independents.

The Greens also performed well, and now have 10 Councillors in Bradford.

After the election results Cllr Poulsen said she was “disappointed” the party lost seats, but pointed out their vote held up in many wards.

She said: “It is obvious to me that the loss of the seats, like the reduced majorities in some other wards, are an unfortunate result of public dissatisfaction with politics and are often protest votes and don’t reflect on the hard work individual Councillors do in their communities.

“It is somewhat unfortunate that national politics has protected the Labour Party from losing more seats on the council, when they have so badly damaged it.

“The Council’s performance in recent years has been as bad as it gets, one of the worst in the country, but sadly there are some people who would still vote Labour regardless of anything, which burdens everyone else with high council tax and decimated services.”

Referring to the success of independent candidates, many of which tapped into voter dissatisfaction with how the National Labour party has handled the conflict in Gaza.

Cllr Poulsen added: “That Labour has lost six seats to candidates running on a Gaza agenda is not something that my Conservative Group colleagues and I think should be celebrated. Conflicts between countries thousands of miles away have no legitimate place in campaigns for election to local councils in England.

“Labour have brought these losses on themselves by politicising an international conflict in the council chamber, one as a local council we have no control over.

“I hope these new councillors will be working for the good of their communities in delivering local services something councillors are elected to do.

“It is imperative that the residents of Bradford District vote on local issues and not national or international issues and that they look at the actual behaviour of the relevant political groups in the council chamber and delivering for their community.”

Little Horton Councillor Taj Salam was a Labour Councillor until he defected to the Bradford Independent Group last year over Kier Starmer’s handing of the Israel/Gaza conflict.

In response to Cllr Poulsen’s claims that the Independents ran on a “Gaza agenda” he said: “A lot of the election leaflets might have mentioned Gaza, there is no beating around the bush, it is a big issue in the Asian community.

“It might have been responsible for some of the vote, but the candidates also highlighted local issues. They argued that local areas were being neglected, and politicians have been taking votes for granted.

“I don’t care what party you are, after the election there are no safe seats anymore. People want to see you on the street and see how contactable you are. People don’t want to be bogged down by party politics.

“Yes the Gaza issue has played a part in getting candidates recognised, but they also campaigned on a lot of local issues”

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