A poster reading "Vote Green Party" on the back of a chair

Two Labour Councillors have defected to the Green Party this week. Patrick Kitterick, a Councillor in Leicester and Benjamin Gray, a Councillor in Rushcliffe have both joined the Greens.

While defections of elected representatives are relatively rare, these moves are part of a wider pattern of Councillors leaving Labour and joining the Greens. Over 20 Labour Councillors have switched to the Green Party since Keir Starmer became leader of the Labour Party.

Councillor Kitterick in Leicester had been suspended from the Labour Party for six months after he proposed that the city’s mayoral system of governance be replaced by the committee system. Under the committee system, core Council decisions are taken by cross-party committees, rather than by a cabinet made up Councillors from the largest party.

Speaking to Leicestershire Live on his decision to leave Labour and join the Greens, Kitterick accused the Labour Party of ‘crushing any dissent’. He said: “I believe the Labour Party has changed for the worse, and, being on the inside, I realise just how bad it’s got in terms of the crushing of any dissent or opinion.”

He added: “Debate has been curtailed. It’s becoming apparent that anyone who stands has to sign a loyalty oath to the city mayor, and the reality is my loyalties are to the people who elect me, not to one man. It seems the party is going down a route where you either unquestioningly agree with the city mayor or you leave. So I’m leaving.”

Commenting on why he went on to join the Greens, Kitterick said: “It was then a question of, who are my values most with, both nationally and locally, and it’s the Green Party. I think I’ll be in a better position to represent people as a Green Party candidate, where I am more able to speak my mind.”

Councillor Gray has been on Rushcliffe Council since 2019 and served for two years as leader of the Labour group. Speaking to West Bridgford Wire following his decision to join the Greens, Gray said: “The Green Party focus on community, and what can actually be done on the Borough Council to make a tangible difference for local residents.”

In a letter to residents, Gray said: “I became involved in politics to focus on community, the environment, and making the country a fairer place. In recent years I feel that the Labour Party has focused too much time and energy on internal politics.

“My principles have not changed, and I believe that my time, energy, and efforts are better spent where there is a common goal to build our communities, protect the environment, and build a fairer society.”

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Image credit: Jon Craig – Creative Commons