Hull councillors Gill Kennett and Dean Kirk were suspended indefinitely from the Labour Group following their refusal to vote for Hull Labour Council’s budget which imposed swingeing cuts. Gill Kennett explains why and what happened next:
I could not in all conscience vote for a budget that would continue to inflict more devastation upon the people of Hull. I could not vote for a budget that was dictated to the people of Hull by the Cabinet of millionaires in London who have stolen £48 million from our council to help pay for the wreckage inflicted by the bankers. Hull has had a real terms spending reduction of £228 per resident, as opposed to an average of £61 per head nationally.
Having worked for Social Services/Child Care/Children and Families, my professional life and career was in the service of the people of Hull, especially those with a lack of life chances and opportunities. When my position was cut by the previous Lib Dem administration, I was one of the army of union members who campaigned tirelessly and passionately to help secure the huge Labour victory of 2011. Just a year later, I was elected to the Council where I have the privilege of representing the residents of Holderness Ward in East Hull.
I will not be part of this Government’s planned destruction of the public sector, this planned dismantling of the terms and conditions fought for by our brave predecessors, to inflict more suffering on the already deprived citizens of our city. I will never be a bailiff for this Government, I will never bend to their will.
I am not a militant, revolutionary or naive idealist, some of the descriptions that have been circulated about me. I am a lifelong Labour supporter (as far back as I can remember) and a Labour voter since my teens, someone who was brought up with its values at the core of our family.
I now have to ask myself why those values that I believed were central to the Party have not been acted upon, and why they do not underpin a fight back against this Government by the Labour Party both nationally and locally.
Our predecessors did not worry about how their beliefs and values might play with the rich and powerful. They were not satisfied with whatever crumbs fell from the table of the establishment. They did not beg and simper at the feet of the Government and the ruling classes, or act like grateful sycophants every time a bone was thrown their way.
Instead they went out and built a party that we are proud to state stands up for the people. How can they in all sincerity remove me for having a conscience?
I was informed by the Council Leader that we no longer had a future in the Labour Party and by the Chief Whip that the punishment of indefinite suspension had come from the Party centrally. We have now been informed of our expulsion from the Party.
Both Dean and I have made the decision to seek advice from the Council as to how we could become independent. We are sorry that we have been put into this position as we have both been loyal members of the Labour Party for many years; indeed, we both have roots in the Party going back through previous generations.
We are both conscientious and committed councillors and will continue to work hard in our wards and for the people in our city. We are also both committed to working towards a Labour Government being elected in the near future. We want a Labour Government that
will act as a party for the people – not a party that is pandering to the right wing media, nor a party that will carry out this Government’s welfare reforms.