Last night we reported that the party had confirmed that Labour councillors would not be joining the cabinet of former Lib Dem “Independent” Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson. The NEC overruled the decision of Bristol Labour Group who had voted (by 8 councillors to 7) to join Ferguson’s cabinet. The BBC reports that “Local Labour party members had wanted to boycott the cabinet but were overruled by the party’s councillors.”
As a result of the decision, Labour Group leader Peter Hammond (who was in favour of working with Ferguson) has resigned, stating:
“I am not simply a member of the Labour Party but its principle elected spokesperson in local government in Bristol – I am expected to publicly endorse and advocate Labour Party decisions.
“In all conscience I cannot publicly support a decision that runs contrary to the advice I gave to Labour councillors which they accepted by a majority decision as they are entitled to do.”
The Deputy Leader of the group will now serve as acting leader until a new leader is elected in 2/3 weeks.
There certainly seems to be a great deal of division in Bristol Labour Party, and with so many marginal seats in the area, the party will need to be in better shape by 2015.