Leading Cambridge city councillor Mairéad Healy quits Labour Party over national leadership comments
A Cambridge Labour councillor has quit the party over its national leadership and comments made by Sir Keir Starmer about the Israel-Hamas war.
Mairéad Healy, who represents Romsey on Cambridge City Council, said comments “encouraging collective punishment towards the Palestinian people” were the final straw.
In a recent LBC interview, Sir Keir Starmer said Israel had “the right” to withhold power and water from the Gaza Strip.
“I believe politicians have a responsibility to act with humanity and decency. Since the comments made have not been revoked in recent days, I believe it is untenable to remain in a party which espouses such callousness,” Cllr Healy said in a statement today (Wednesday, October 18).
Cllr Healy said her decision came after “much soul searching and tears” and after “several months” struggling to remain in a party that no longer reflects her values “under Keir Starmer’s leadership”.
She said: “In recent times, it has become increasingly unconscionable to remain in a party which has lurched so far to the right that it is hard to distinguish itself as a party of genuine opposition.
“From refusing to support removing the two-child benefits cap, to failing to support trade unions, nor standing up for asylum seekers, back tracking on climate action and failing to hold the government to account on the cost-of-living crisis where seriously vulnerable people are encountering unimaginable hardship, with one in four children right now going to be hungry.”
Cllr Healy also hit out at the “culture of fear” within the national Labour Party where those who do not agree with the leadership and its policies are “suspended or expelled at will”.
However, Cllr Healy did pay tribute to Cambridge Labour and its leader Mike Davey.
“I have only the highest admiration and praise for each of my local Labour colleagues across the city,” she said.
Cllr Healy intends to retain her seat at the city council, but will sit as an independent councillor.
She said: “I will continue for the remainder of my term, standing up for those most disadvantaged in our city, championing local issues in Romsey and will seek to always advocate for those who need support.
Following her announcement, Cllr Davey said: “As a Labour councillor, Mairéad has tirelessly campaigned against poverty and injustice in the city. Councillors and colleagues have been privileged to work with someone who has fought so passionately for what she believes in and who cares deeply for the wellbeing of her residents. We wish her all the best for the future.”
The regional office of the Labour Party has been contacted for comment.