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Cambridge City councillor Mairead Healy explains her decision to quit the Labour Party

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It is an impressive CV by most standards, with key roles that have included running Healthwatch in part of London, working for Amnesty International, and an appointee by the Government to the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales.

For the past two and half years Mairead Healy has also been a Labour councillor in Cambridge where her reputation quickly saw her rise through the ranks to become executive member with responsibility for the cost-of-living crisis and anti-poverty work alongside health and wellbeing and equalities.

A few days ago, however, she quit the Labour ruling group on the city council and resigned her membership of the Labour Party.

She explained her reasons.

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After much soul searching and tears, I have resigned the Labour Party whip on Cambridge City Council alongside resigning from my executive position leading the council’s communities portfolio, writes Cllr Mairead Healy.

I have also resigned my Labour Party membership.

This comes after several months struggling to remain in a party which no longer reflects my values under Keir Starmer’s leadership.

In recent times, it has become increasingly unconscionable to remain in a party which has lurched so far to the right, that it is hard to distinguish itself as a party of genuine opposition.

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From refusing to support removing the two-child benefits cap, to failing to support trade unions, nor standing up for asylum seekers, back tracking on climate action and failing to hold the government to account on the cost-of-living crisis where seriously vulnerable people are encountering unimaginable hardship-with 1 in 4 children right now going to bed hungry in this country.

Additionally, the creation of a culture of fear within the national Labour Party, where those who do not agree with the national leadership and its policies, are suspended, or expelled at will without valid reasons, has demonstrated an increasingly authoritarian approach betraying the democratic principles upon which the Labour Party was founded.

However, the final straw for me, was the appalling comments made this week by the leadership of the Labour Party, encouraging collective punishment towards the Palestinian people by condoning the indiscriminate withholding of water and energy supplies in Gaza, which is itself illegal under international law and potentially constitutes war crimes.

This is not only extremely dangerous but completely inhumane.

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This was also combined with the national Labour Party issuing instructions to elected representatives not to attend Palestinian solidarity rally’s last weekend, which I thought was both disgraceful and wrong.

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I believe politicians have a responsibility to act with humanity and decency. Since the comments made have not been revoked in recent days, I believe it is untenable to remain in a party which espouses such callousness.

In addition, I have been horrified by the dismissal of concerns raised by Labour Muslim colleagues across the country in recent days to the leadership of the Labour Party, which I truly believe would not happen if it were a different protected group at issue.

I intend to sit as an independent councillor, representing the interests of the people of Romsey, as an independent voice.

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I’d like to thank all those who voted for me and renew my commitment to continuing to serve you and I hope you understand my reasons for taking this course of action.

I will continue for the remainder of my term, standing up for those most disadvantaged in our city, championing local issues in Romsey and will seek to always advocate for those who need support.

I’d like to thank our leader Mike Davey and the wonderful local group of local Labour councillors who have been such strong sources of friendship and support during my time as a Labour councillor.

I have only the highest admiration and praise for each of my local Labour colleagues across the city including my fellow Romsey councillors and Romsey Labour which is full of principled and decent activists.

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This is the only comment I will be making on this matter, and I won’t be responding further.

Finally, thoughts and prayers to everyone impacted by events in the Middle East.

Solidarity,

Mairead

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