A FOREST Labour Party officer’s support for Ken Livingstone over his remarks regarding Hitler has forced a split in the party just weeks before the county council elections.
Forest of Dean Constituency Labour party officers have come out in support of the former London mayor who was suspended from the party last year for saying Hitler supported the deportation of Jews to Israel.
District Councillor Tim Gwilliam (Berry Hill) said this proved to be the ‘last straw’ among Forest councillors who disagree with a left-wing takeover of the party.
The split means Cllrs Gwilliam, Roger James (Coleford East), Paul Hiett (Bream) and Bill Osborne (Lydney East) will form a new group at the Forest of Dean District Council.
“The last straw was an executive officer of the party supporting Ken Livingstone regarding his comments about Hitler and Zionism,” Cllr Gwilliam said.
“We have felt for some time that the party is taking the wrong direction.
"The local meetings have been discussing national issues such as Trident when I believe we should be focussing on the local issues such as whether there will be a bus from Coleford to Cinderford on a Saturday.”
Lydney’s Bill Osborne said he had been considering his future for some 18-months prior to making his decision and said: “I have been in disagreement with the Labour Party’s national executive for quite some time. I waited it out to see if things would improve but they just haven’t.”
Janet Keene, a Forest of Dean Labour party spokesperson, said: “I was made aware of the decision and was very disappointed with it.”