A former Labour councillor has branded the Stockport branch of the party ‘like a North Korean dictatorship’ amid claims of a culture of bullying.
The allegations came after two Stockport councillors Laura Booth and Paul Moss, of Reddish North, left the party in controversial circumstances in the last three weeks.
Offerton councillor Booth left in early October, citing a ‘culture of systematic bullying in the local Labour party’ and was followed this Wednesday by Councillor Moss, in an apparent row about plans to build housing on Reddish Vale Park.
Upon his departure from the Labour Party, Councillor Moss, whose in-depth revelations to MM about why he left the party will be published early next week, took to social media to offer an initial statement.
It read: “I have been a Labour loyalist since my election but I can no longer be bullied into supporting the underhand actions of my party…I therefore regret I must resign from the Labour Party and represent my residents as an Independent Councillor.”
Fellow councillor Patrick McAuley, now of the Liberal Democrats, left Stockport Labour two years ago and spoke to MM about his experiences of the party and the recent revelations.
“What has happened is very much symptomatic of the Labour Party’s attitude, it’s not democratic, it’s very much like a North Korean dictatorship,” he said.
“Laura didn’t actually say she was bullied herself but the culture is so toxic and full of underhand tactics.
“They are very much command and control, they don’t believe in ideas and originality.”
Mr McAuley now claims he is far more comfortable as a Liberal Democrat representative and remarked that issues existed during his time in the Labour party.
He said: “You could cut the atmosphere with a knife.
“I was a lot more comfortable in committee meetings with other councillors than I was within my own group.”
Over the past few weeks, the ongoing feud within the Labour Party has spilled over onto social media with heated exchanges between councillors now commonplace – to the Lib Dems amusement.
@CllrIainRoberts there’s no bullying. She had a huffy because Reddish North deselected her waste of space Councillor ‘partner’ Paul Moss.
— Claire Francis (@ClaireFranc) October 4, 2014
— Cllr Patrick McAuley (@CllrMcAuley) October 4, 2014
Even Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, has become involved with his office using Twitter to call councillor Moss, ‘a waste of space’, while he was still a member of the Labour Party.
In the wake of the controversy, Liberal Democrat councillor Iain Roberts has called for an enquiry to be made into the bullying claims.
He told MM: “Bullying, wherever it occurs, is a serious issue. If there are three people all making accusations of bullying in the Labour Group, in the very least it deserves to be investigated.
“I am not in a position to know if the allegations are true or not, but until they are properly investigated by some external body, and the air is cleared, there is going to be a cloud hanging over it that is just not going to go away.”
Stockport Labour have released a statement relating to the resignations of Councillor Booth and told MM they will make no further comment at this time.
“We are sad to hear via the local press that Cllr Laura Booth has decided to leave the Labour Party,” the statement read.
“As a Labour Group we have been unwavering in our support for Laura and proud to support her in her career ambitions.
“As well as a valued Labour councillor and activist, Laura was the Labour Group Chair, Vice Chair of the Local Campaign Forum, Shadow Executive Member and Group Spokesperson as well as being recently elected as Labour PPC for the Hazel Grove constituency and National Chair of Disability Labour.
“We strongly refute her claims and are disappointed that she did not talk to us first. We wish her well in her future endeavours.”
They also clarified the circumstances surrounding Mr Moss’ departure.
When approached, the office for MP Gwynne told MM he was not willing to comment.
Image courtesy of Smabs Sputzer with thanks