A Leicester councillor and former Lord Mayor of the city has resigned from the Labour Party after 25 years, claiming that it had “lost its way” locally, becoming “detached” from the lives of everyday working class people.
Councillor Deepak Bajaj has been a member of the Labour Party for the past 25 years, with 16 of those spent serving as an elected member of Leicester City Council, for the Evington Ward.
However, earlier today he tendered his resignation, stating that the party had “lost its way” with regard to its values and principles.
Although he’ll still remain a councillor for the ward, Cllr Bajaj, Leicester’s previous Lord Mayor, has decided to join the Conservative Party with immediate effect.
“I can’t continue to be a part of the Labour Party because their principles are completely different now, especially locally,” he told the Leicester Times.
“They’re not in touch with normal working class people, who really need help.
“Some of the issues and concerns that local people have, members just don’t take seriously – not just in my ward but all across the city,” he went on to claim.
“They’re treated as a joke and brushed under the carpet. It’s not on. You’re elected to do a job and we’ve got to make sure that we do it and listen to people, otherwise what’s the point in being in the party?”
Cllr Bajaj also claimed that many community members had lost faith in the Labour Party locally, with elected members becoming “too comfortable” in their roles.
“People say elected members only come around when it’s election time to put a leaflet through their doors. They’ve become too comfortable, and take their positions for granted really,” he said.
“The Labour Party is no longer a transparent or democratic organisation and has become detached from the lives of everyday working people.”
Cllr Bajaj also claims to have witnessed countless examples of “bullying, dictatorship, and appalling behaviour,” within the Labour Party, something he sets out in his resignation.
“It’s just a dictatorship really – one man running the show and others just jumping on board saying ‘yes,’ he said.
“I cannot stand by this, the people of Leicester deserve much better.”
In response to Cllr Bajaj’s resignation, Diane Cank, Chief Whip of the Leicester Labour Group, said she was “shocked and saddened” to see him go. However, she was unaware of any bullying and poor behaviour going on within the party.
“It’s completely come as a shock to us. He was an excellent councillor for Evington and did a great job as Lord Mayor, so we’re very sorry to see him go,” she said.
“It’s a shame, but he has to do what’s right for him. He told me it’s something he’s been thinking about for a couple of months, but when I got the call, it came completely out of the blue,” she added.
Addressing the concerns set out in Cllr Bajaj’s resignation, including those of bullying and the party having “lost it’s way,” she said: “That’s his perspective and he’s quite entitled to that.
“We have some councillors in the party who are more vocal than others, but I’ve not witnessed any bullying, nor have I received any complaints.”
Upon leaving the Labour Party, Cllr Bajaj wished to thank everyone who’d supported him over the years,
“I would like to sincerely thank the people of Evington who elected me and have been by my side all of the way. I look forward to continue serving to the best of my ability,” he said.
“I would like to thank everybody who had supported me over the years, and hope you understand the reasons for my decision today.”