Labour fury as its sole councillor quits – but only tells party after deadline

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Labour councillor Jason Fojtik has resigned over several key issues including 'Labour's lack of leadership over Europe.'

THERE’S shock and widespread anger in Stratford Labour Party over news that its only town and district councillor – Jason Fojtik – quit the party yesterday without telling colleagues and will now stand as an independent in next month’s local elections.

Cllr Fojtik (Clopton Ward) announced his resignation on social media on Wednesday afternoon, which came as a complete shock to Stratford Labour Party Secretary John McDermott who described the decision as, “quite disgraceful, shameful and unprofessional.”

“We had no information this was going to happen, on the contrary we were under the impression he would stand for Labour again. Just three weeks ago he came to my house and I signed the forms for his nomination. If he’d told us what he was going to do we would have put up another candidate,” John McDermott said.

Yesterday’s shock resignation announcement by Cllr Fojtik coincided with the 4pm deadline for nominations for the local elections on Thursday, 2nd May at town and district level.

He said the decision wasn’t made easily and it “flipped and flopped in his head, but eventually the lid blew off and he was extremely angry at the way he’d been badly treated over a culmination of things.”

He cited what he thinks is the continued “anti-semitic attitudes within the party, the lack of leadership over Europe which is playing into the hands of Brexit and a culture of bullying against those who speak out.”

These are allegations John McDermott disputes. “I really need to look at this in more detail before commenting further but as far as I’m aware there’s never been any complaints about bullying or people speaking out,” he said.

In 2015 Mr Fojtik was elected town and district councillor for Clopton Ward, the first Labour win in the town since 1974. He will now stand as an independent in that ward, using a fresh nomination form.

His announcement yesterday said: “It is with deep regret that I am resigning from the Labour Party I joined in 2010.

“The Labour Party today is no longer the Party I joined; following the election of Jeremy Corbyn it has become a hostile environment for anyone questioning leadership policy.

“I am resigning for two main reasons: Firstly, racism, in the form of anti-semitism, in the Labour Party has appalled me.

“For months the Labour Party failed to act before finally being shamed into accepting the definition, but little has changed and I have come to the conclusion that a Party that has always been proud of its anti-racism, has become institutionally anti-semitic under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Ignoring this deplorable behaviour by our supporters is tantamount to tacit endorsement.

“Secondly, I am and always have been a passionate supporter of the European Union. The Labour Party I joined was an internationalist party that valued the contribution of all including EU citizens. Instead of wholly backing the Remain cause the Labour leadership has obfuscated and distorted on this issue leaving millions in despair.

“The Labour leader failed to attend the largest demonstration in a generation in London to call for a People’s Vote and has tolerated Shadow Ministers who have defied whips and Party policy to oppose it.

“I feel I still have much to offer to public service and to the residents of Clopton and to the town that I am very proud of and therefore will be standing in the forthcoming council elections as an independent candidate.”