Councillor Sophie Wilson, who joined the council in 2017, will continue as an independent representative for Park and Arbourthorne ward after posting a four-page statement on social media announcing that she had left Labour, which thousands of people interacted with.
In her statement she said she re-evaluated how she can be most useful to the movement and was inspired by Sharon Graham at Unite, the union, to focus on building power from the grassroots upwards in communities and workplaces.
She said: “I’m sad to say that now in 2022, I no longer recognise my party. I have seen the values of fairness and honesty traded for spineless political opportunism, as likely to pander to racism than it is to challenge it. A party which might just as easily choose the side of the oppressor, than the oppressed, if it were more likely to lead it closer to a sniff of power.
“I believe being steadfast in your beliefs is the only way we can bring trust and honesty back to politics. By remaining a member of the Labour Party, more and more often I am finding myself forced to choose between what is right, and what is ‘easy’.”
She also had some suggestions for fellow councillors, saying: “I’ve seen how the majority of councillors from the majority of parties on Sheffield City Council have worked exceptionally hard for their constituents. However, what is often overlooked is the collective responsibility of our councillors to steer the political direction of policy in our city and our responsibility to be aware of what these policies will mean for the people we represent.
“The Labour Party desperately needs a coherent strategy for local government, empowering local councillors to protect their communities from the damage of brutal austerity. We need local councils which have a sound socialist strategy of ethical, local procurement which aims to build wealth within our communities. Strategies of bringing services back in-house and running them in the best interests of those who use them. Strategies which take responsibility for our environment and are proactive and ambitious in our climate protection work. We have failed to do this up and down the country, and we have left councillors to middle-manage a regime of Tory austerity which has wreaked untold havoc on our most vulnerable communities. This havoc is about to get worse.”
Hundreds of people commented on the posts.
Fellow councillor, Kaltum Rivers said: “Solidarity [Sophie], must have been difficult to make this decision.”
Susan Buckingham tweeted: “Solidarity, [Sophie]. I resigned last week. Another local comrade resigned a few days later. Three more are writing their letters of resignation. We are all socialists who want much stronger social and environmental commitments.”
Some disagreed. David Faulkner said: “I respect your views and opinions but I think you are wrong. Slowly but surely the Labour Party is moving in the best way to represent the people of this country.”
Her full statement can be read here: https://twitter.com/Soph__wilson/status/1498736841524228097?s=20&t=7btZFtX1nEDEbMV4eUujkg