Four Labour councillors have quit the party angry that no-one local from the Islwyn Labour Party has been shortlisted as a candidate for the upcoming general election.
Caerphilly councillors Dave Rees, Phyllis Griffiths, who both represent Risca West, Pengam’s Jonathan Wilson and Ynysddu’s Jan Jones have written to the Prime Minister tendering their resignation from the Labour Party.
They claim a replacement for current MP Don Touhig, who is standing down at the next election, has been “parachuted” in ahead of local Labour members.
Cllr Rees has said he will stand in the election against the official Labour candidate and, together with the three other councillors, claims that several other members of the Islwyn Labour Party have also resigned.
In the letter to Gordon Brown, they write: “It is with a heavy heart that we leave the Labour party. However, we look at the situation as being, not us as having left the Labour party, but the Labour party having left us.”
A Welsh Labour spokesperson told the BBC: “Nothing has been received by the party directly by the members concerned.
“If it is the case that these councillors will be resigning their membership, then it is clearly disappointing news.
“However, after a strong conference weekend and hugely positive recent polls, Welsh Labour is in great shape to fight the next election.
“The quality of the candidates applying for… Islwyn merely underlined the fact that we have a deep reservoir of talent to draw on.”
The councillors have drawn parallels with the late Peter Law who stood against the Labour Party in Blaenau Gwent.
They said: “It appears that the Labour party have learnt no lessons from Blaenau Gwent, when the Labour party imposed a candidate upon local members and suffered the humiliation of Independent candidates overturning a 19,000 majority…
“We will give the people of Islwyn the choice of a person who lives in Islwyn and knows the problems we face, as oppose to the Labour party candidate, who we believe just wishes to use Islwyn to further their own careers.
“We and the people of Islwyn want an MP who will be Islwyn’s man/woman in London, not London’s man/woman in Islwyn.”
The shortlist of seven Labour candidates for selection to stand in the constituency is Tamsin Dunwoody, Christopher Evans, Dan Jarvis, Melanie Smallman, Nick Thomas-Symonds, Angela Wilkins and
Lindsay Whittle, leader of the Plaid Cymru group on Caerphilly County Borough Council and its Parliamentary candidate for Caerphilly, said: “The resignations of four Labour councillors in Islwyn just highlights the fact that the Labour Party is in complete disarray.
“But the important issue as far as the public of Caerphilly County Borough is concerned is that it will be business as usual at the council. The Plaid Cymru-led administration will continue to tackle the most difficult of financial situations we have faced while Labour councillors fight among themselves.
“People can be assured we will not shrink from our responsibilities unlike others.”
Harry Andrews, Labour group leader on Caerphilly County Borough Council, said: “I’m obviously very disappointed to hear this news – these are colleagues I have worked closely with in the past and I’m saddened by the position they have taken.
“However, their decision will in no way diminish Labour’s commitment to the serious issues like fighting to improve public services in the Caerphilly County Borough.”
Labour’s Islwyn AM Irene James said: “The important thing people need to remember is that it will be down to party members in Islwyn to have the final say on our next candidate.
“I think we have a great range of candidates to pick from and I look forward to campaigning alongside the eventual winner to keep Labour in power in Westminster.”