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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Labour to re-run selection meeting after stalwart 'stabbed in back'

A councillor “stabbed in the back” by members of his own party may stand as an Independent.

Joe Holliday photo
Joe Holliday and wife Dorothy

Lifelong Labour man Joe Holliday, 68, of Northumberland Street, Workington wanted to stand in the county council elections for the Clifton and St John’s ward on May 2.

But the sitting councillor was shocked to discover that he had been ousted in favour of Michael Heaslip, who he had previously canvassed alongside.

He said the decision to rule him out was made by just a handful of party members and is concerned that a “glitch” may have meant that people didn’t receive sufficient notice of the meeting.

Labour North has now ordered a re-run of the process, but this may not be enough to satisfy Mr Holliday who is now considering whether or not to defect in protest at the way he has been treated.

He said: “It felt like a stab in the back. I was very disappointed to see only six members turn up for the meeting, but even more disappointed to hear that members who would have supported me had not been informed of the time and date of the meeting.”

Mark Fryer, Konrad Hansen, Susan Heaslip, Brian Wilson and Nora Wilson were at the selection meeting in the Trades Hall. Mr Holliday said three had voted against him, two for him, and there was one abstention.

“I decided that I wanted the electorate to decide if I was the right person to represent them and not just six members of the Labour Party.”

A spokesman for Labour North said: “A glitch in the process led to some concerns that members in the ward didn’t receive the required notice period before the selection meeting.

“As a consequence, the successful candidate and other members expressed their views to the Labour Party’s Regional Office that the selection meeting should be re-run. The regional director has therefore asked the local Constituency Party to re-run the selection meeting in this ward only.”

Mr Holliday assured his supporters that he would fight for the same issues whatever party he stands for.

“I will still be the same person. People have said standing as an Independent shows a lack of loyalty but as far as I’m concerned they have shown no loyalty to me.” He added: I haven’t fallen out with the Labour Party. I get on well with everybody, and I will continue to work with Labour and the Tories.”

But his wife Dorothy, 67, who has often pounded the pavement at his side said she was “disgusted” by the way he has been treated.

UKIP candidate Bob Hardon, who will be fighting Mr Holliday for the seat, said: “Joe followed me as mayor of Allerdale. He was an exceptionally good county councillor, and I think it’s disgusting that he should be put to one side for someone else.”

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