West Norfolk councillor quits Labour after Corbyn leadership win

Local elections - Labour gain for anti-incinerator Jim Moriarty. ENGANL00120110705075155
Local elections - Labour gain for anti-incinerator Jim Moriarty. ENGANL00120110705075155
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A West Norfolk councillor has resigned from the Labour party following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as its new leader at the weekend.

Jim Moriarty, who represents the Priory ward and is a former leader of the party’s borough council group, confirmed his decision this afternoon.

He will now sit as an independent, increasing the number of independent members of the authority to three and reducing the main opposition Labour group to just nine.

Mr Moriarty said: “It is clear from last Saturday’s result that Jeremy Corbyn has a mandate from all levels of the membership and, following his election, I understand a further 15,000 new members have joined Labour.

“Unfortunately, after a summer of soul searching, I do not share their enthusiasm for his leadership.

“If a general election was called tomorrow I could not find it in my heart to want Labour to win under Jeremy Corbyn.

“In such a circumstances it would be wrong for me to remain a member of the party.”

A West Norfolk Council spokesman had earlier confirmed the authority was notified earlier this week that he now intended to sit as an independent member.

But another of West Norfolk’s leading Labour figures, Jo Rust, said she was “disappointed” by Mr Moriarty’s stance and urged members to give the new leader a chance.

She said: “I would just ask people to wait and see.

“I was quite clear that I would back and support any leader and I would ask other people to do the same. He deserves that respect.”

Mrs Rust was one of more than 20 defeated general election candidates to sign an open letter backing Mr Corbyn during the leadership contest.

And she believes the scale of his victory, with almost 60 per cent of the total votes in the first round, reflected the public’s desire for an alternative style of politics.

She said: “What I heard time and time again was ‘You’re all the same.’

“Jeremy Corbyn isn’t the same and the fact people wanted something that wasn’t the same clearly came through.”

Mrs Rust was also celebrating her own election victory this week after being elected as one of four Eastern region representatives to the party’s national policy forum.

She said: “I’m very excited to be part of this and I hope I can do my bit to reflect the views of the area I live in.

“We’re seen as true blue Tory heartland, but we have got so many pockets of deprivation. I see people struggling.”