“An operation worthy of Joe Stalin”: The full list of Labour councillors pushed aside

The Labour Party has 'purged' 19 councillors in Leicester ahead of this year’s May local elections in a bid to root out corruption.

A photo of Ross Willmott holding a ballot box with two supporters either side of him © Ross Willmott
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In an email to local party branches, the Labour Party’s regional director, Richard Oliver, said the National Executive Committee moved to deselect the councillors because of "concerns about the process".

Email from Richard Oliver, regional director of east Midlands Labour party. It reads: "Thank you for applying to be a Labour candidate in Leicester in the upcoming elections in May. I am sorry to inform you that you have not been successful on this occasion. Whilst I appreciate that this news will be disappointing, the decision of the NEC panel is final and there is no right of appeal. I would like to thank you for your work on behalf of the Labour party in Leicester and wish you luck in your future endeavours."

Strikingly, Labour deselected 58% of its BAME councillors in Leicester, compared to 18% of its white councillors. Approximately 40% of its councillors in total were barred from standing. Local Labour Party members were not consulted.

Ross Willmott – who has been a councillor for 38 years and has represented Rushey Mead Ward for 16 – called it an "an operation worthy of Joe Stalin". In response to a Facebook post which said Labour "would reap what you sow. I predict a terrible election for Labour, no canvassers, no idea and not a single principle".

Earlier this month Rita Patel was among some councillors who were suspended by the Labour Party for six months for backing a motion to abolish the role. She has since resigned from the party. Patel, a councillor for the Rushey Mead ward, announced in a video posted to social media that she will stand as an independent candidate for mayor. If elected, she aims to scrap the role.

Photo of Stephen Gee © Leicester City Council

Thurncourt councillor Stephen Gee said: "As of today I’ve resigned from the Labour Party because of the undemocratic way that I have been deselected because the Labour Party members in Thurncourt Labour party branch wanted me to stand again.

"I’ve also resigned due to the way that the NEC panel conducted their interviews. I have ADHD and anxiety and don’t come over well when I’m in an online meeting with the Labour party who were only willing to conduct interviews online, even when the disabilities officer emailed the regional director asking why reasonable adjustments weren’t being made. She never received a reply which would breach the Equality Act of 2010".

Photo of Patrick Kitterick (right) with fellow Green party candidates for Castle Ward, Mick Gregg (centre) and Liz Sahu (left) © Leicester Green Party

Patrick Kitterick, councillor for Castle Ward, has defected to the Green Party, giving them their first seat on the council for over a decade. In a statement on Twitter, he said, "Ever since being elected as a councillor for Castle Ward, I have always sought to do the right thing.” As a Green Party candidate, he will stand for Castle Ward in the upcoming election. The Greens enjoy their most support in the neighbourhood, and Kitterick could hold onto his seat.

Sharmen Rahman, councillor for the Stoneygate ward, said she felt "betrayed and hurt" by the national party's decision. "I’ve given up my time with my family to fight for Labour. It feels like despite all the time and energy we’ve put into the party, we’re disposable", she said. "It is absolutely undemocratic. The grassroots of the party, none of them have had any say in this process".

The full list of sitting Labour councillors deselected are:

  1. Ruma Ali – Humberstone and Hamilton
  2. Padmini Chamund – Belgrave
  3. Luis Fonseca – North Evington
  4. Stephan Gee – Thurncourt
  5. Rashmikant Joshi – North Evington
  6. Shahid Khan – Evington
  7. Patrick Kitterick – Castle
  8. Kirk Master – Stoneygate
  9. Jacky Nangreave – Westcote
  10. Rita Patel – Rushey mead
  11. Hemant Rae Bhatia – Beaumont Leys
  12. Sharmen Rahman – Stoneygate
  13. Gurinder Singh Sandhu – Humberstone and Hamilton
  14. Deborah Sangster – Castle
  15. Nita Solanki – Belgrave
  16. Aminur Thalukdar – Stoneygate
  17. Mahendra Valand – Belgrave
  18. Paul Westley – Beaumont Leys
  19. Ross Willmott – Rushey Mead

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