Grimsby local paper reveals Labour candidate ‘tried to defect to the Tories’
The Grimsby Telegraph has revealed that a local councillor they describe as “one of Labour’s leading figures” on North East Lincolnshire council tried to defect to the Conservatives in 2016, following Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election as Labour leader.
The paper reports that councillor Matthew Brown, who signed an open letter of support for Owen Smith’s challenge to Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 Labour leadership contest, met with Conservative councillors in November that year.
The Conservative group on North East Lincolnshire council decided, however, after discussions among themselves, that “we did not want to offer him the opportunity to join us”.
Following further revelations in which he wrote to the Conservatives advising them on how to defeat a Corbyn-supporting Labour candidate in a previous election the Labour Party has withdrawn support for him, saying he is no longer the official Labour candidate and taking away financial assistance.
Councillor Brown is still standing on 3 May in Grimsby’s Yarborough ward, where the other candidates are Ukip, an open Tory, and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition’s (TUSC) Kieran Barlow, a member of the Usdaw shopworkers’ union.
Following a suggestion from TUSC some local Labour Party members are proposing to put out a leaflet supporting the TUSC candidate.
Dave Nellist, the former Labour MP and now the national chair of TUSC, said: “This revelation completely vindicates TUSC’s decision to selectively stand candidates in this year’s council elections – not against supporters of Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity message but the Blairite cutters and, as shown in this case, closet Tories.
“Over 30 Labour councillors standing for re-election this year who signed the open letter supporting Owen Smith’s attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership in 2016 are facing TUSC candidates at the ballot box next month.
“The news from Grimsby confirms that we can hardly expect councillors like these to stand up to the Tories when they are happy to sit down with them to discuss joining the Conservative Party!
“I’m confident that Labour voters in Yarborough ward who want to fight the cuts, when they realise that the choice on the ballot paper lies between an open Tory, a Ukip Tory, a secret Tory and TUSC, will know who to back”.