Basildon Labour: waning when they should be waxing

Phil Rackley, councillor for St Martin’s ward in the Borough of Basildon, has quit the Labour Group on the local council. His expulsion from the Party is almost inevitable.

Phil’s comments to the media, which he has also kindly sent to me, follow:

“It is with a great deal of sadness that after being a Labour Party member for well over 30 years and a Labour Councillor in Basildon for 20 years I have had to make this decision. My resignation from the group will mean my automatic expulsion from the Party but I remain a Labour Party supporter and Socialist since my resignation was not about policy but more to do with the style of leadership in the Labour Group.”

“Since the elections last May various incidents have brought me to the conclusion that, like Lynda Gordon before me, my continued membership of the Labour Group had become untenable. Myself and Cllr Lynda Gordon intend to stay as ward councillors and finish our terms of office representing our constituents in St Martins and Lee Chapel North, our political views have not changed and there is no reason why we should stand down.”

Phil and the Lynda Gordon join Daniel Munyambu as ex-Labour and now independent councillors. I am told that Daniel hopes to return to the Labour fold. Phil and Lynda’s terms of office both run to 2016 when, barring a miracle, they will be replaced in the council chamber.

I do not know what finally pushed Phil (and Lynda) to take such drastic steps, but I do know that there have been tensions in the group for some time. I imagine tensions in almost all groups, being in the same party does not mean Labour people agree on everything all of the time. One would hope that differences would be glossed over so as to help serve those that elected them. These resignations damage Labour’s hopes of running Basildon Borough Council in the short term – I find it difficult to imagine them supporting a Labour administration if they cannot support the group. I would be glad to be disabused of this notion.

I have no idea of what reception they would get if they asked to return to the fold, but I wish that this would happen. Basildon deserves better than the current Tory administration, and Phil and Lynda should be helping to make the Tories see the door marked ‘exit’ as soon as possible.

The current political set-up of the Basildon council is Conservative (25), Labour (12), Liberal Democrat (2), and Independent (3).