Sheffield councillor quits Labour – days after MP wife defects

Sheffield councillor Steve Wilson – husband of defecting MP Angela Smith – has quit the Labour Party.

By Lucy Ashton
Thursday, 28 February, 2019, 12:49
Councillor Steve Wilson

Ms Smith was one of seven MPs to leave Labour and form The Independent Group in Parliament a fortnight ago.

At the time, her husband said he would remain as a Labour councillor but today he also left the party after “much soul searching”.

Coun Steve Wilson has cut up his Labour membership card

He announced he was quitting on Twitter, with a photo of his membership card cut in two. He tweeted: “After much soul searching I have today resigned my membership of UK Labour.

“After more than 20 years of membership, 10 as a councillor, I believe it no longer represents views I hold so dear.  In all honesty I can no longer represent the party it has become. Jeremy Corbyn has broken it.”

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It is a sad day for me and I have not changed, it is the Labour Party that has changed beyond recognition.

“I came into politics not to fight the Labour Party but to change the world. The last three years has all been about fighting elements of the party which saddens me tremendously.

“I have been holding on to my membership with the party for many months by my fingertips. It has become institutionally anti-Semitic. It now has a culture of bullying and intimidation which is considered the norm and I have come to the conclusion that I cannot work any longer to help Jeremy Corbyn become Prime Minister.”

Asked if he would stand as an independent in the local elections, he said: “Today is about leaving a party I’ve been a member of for over 20 years which is hard enough and not about what happens tomorrow or the day after.”

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As well as being the Labour councillor for East Ecclesfield, Coun Smith also works as Ms Smith’s press officer. This had prompted some discussion as to whether it would break Labour Party rules if a member actively campaigned for an Independent MP.

And a Labour source today said there had been controversy surrounding Coun Wilson’s selection process as a party candidate.

Coun Wilson had recently been re-selected to stand in his East Ecclesfield seat for Labour in May’s local elections. But the selection process was re-run last night following a complaint that eligible members had been excluded from the meeting.

At the second meeting, instead of re-selecting Coun Wilson automatically, party members decided to have an open selection. Coun Wilson faced going against three other people to be selected as Labour’s candidate.

The source said: “This situation is entirely of Steve Wilson and Angela Smith’s making. They only have themselves to blame.

“Party rules were broken in a bid to engineer his automatic reselection and that’s not on. You do have to ask – how long would he have continued as a Labour councillor if he’d been re-elected?”

Coun Wilson will remain as a councillor until the local elections.

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