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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Kirklees Labour councillor quits party over Gaza stance

Councillor Khan is the fifth member to leave over the Party's stance on the conflict this year

A long-serving Kirklees’ Labour member has resigned from the Party over its stance on Gaza.

Cllr Mus Khan announced that she was departing from the Labour Party on Sunday (12 May), due to her “deep concerns” over the current leadership and party direction under Sir Keir Starmer. Representing the Dalton ward, Cllr Khan is now an Independent councillor and is the fifth to leave the Labour group since January.

It is also understood that as of last Friday (10 May), the councillor had been administratively suspended from the Labour Party, pending investigations, amid allegations of antisemitism and attempting to split the Labour Group over the Israel-Hamas conflict.

However, Cllr Khan has since hit back at the claims, describing them as “entirely baseless” and a reflection of the “toxic and bullying environment” within the local Labour group.

In her resignation statement, Cllr Khan criticised the party’s stance and a “lack of accountability” when it comes to international issues, notably, what she described as the “genocide” in Gaza. The councillor says she believes this contradicts “the moral and ethical standards expected of a potential Prime Minister”.

She also highlighted the “insufficient response to domestic issues” such as the NHS and public service crises, which “remain unaddressed” by current Party leadership.

The councillor said she had been further compelled to question the party leadership’s  “moral compass”  after the recent induction of Natalie Elphicke, a Tory MP with “controversial views”, into the party.

“Given these circumstances, I find it untenable to continue supporting a Labour campaign for the upcoming General Election. As an independent representative for Dalton Ward, I will better serve my constituents and address local issues without the constraints of party politics,” said Cllr Khan.

The councillor called for a thorough review of the Labour Party’s values and direction. She also encourages her former colleagues at Kirklees Labour Group to put principles ahead of party loyalty, especially in light of the party’s perceived departure from its foundational values.

A message seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) sent from Group Leader Cllr Cathy Scott to members, explains that Cllr Khan had been suspended from the Party prior to her resignation. The message also tells that Cllr Khan had been nominated for the role of Deputy Leader of the Labour group but this became invalid upon her suspension.

Cllr Scott went on to call for unity in the Labour Party as a general election approaches.

On the matter of her suspension, Cllr Khan said: “The allegations against me are entirely baseless and reflect a toxic and bullying environment within Kirklees Labour Group. Over the past year, I have actively expressed concerns and was encouraged by colleagues to put myself forward for election as Deputy Leader to restore democratic processes. 

“However, just before the leadership election, I was suspended based on unsubstantiated claims related to an antisemitism training session held five months earlier. These allegations are used for grubby political manoeuvring. Given the circumstances, I decided that resigning was the best way to address my concerns about the party’s direction.”

The Labour Party confirmed that Cllr Khan had been administratively suspended, pending investigation, but said it was unable to comment further.

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