Lambeth's Labour rebel left out in the cold
By Darryl Chamberlain
22 February 2011, 15:40
A Labour councillor who clashed with his party leadership at a Lambeth Council meeting over its plans for cuts has had the party whip withdrawn for at least six months.
As revealed by The Scoop earlier this month, Kingsley Abrams protested against a draft budget containing £37m of cuts at a cabinet meeting, including the proposed closure of a library in his Vassal ward.
Abrams told cabinet members to “get yourselves real jobs”, and was told by leader Steve Reed that his behaviour was “disgraceful, coming from a Labour councillor”.
He has now been told by Lambeth Labour’s chief whip Jack Hopkins that he will lose the party whip “for an indefinite period, to be reviewed at six months”.
According to the e-mail, revealed by local anti-cuts campaigners, Hopkins said “no pleasure was taken” in suspending Abrams, the only Labour councillor to have voted against cuts at an internal meeting.
The matter is also to be referred to the Vauxhall constituency party to see if Abrams broke national party rules.
Abrams has not commented on the affair, but he is now billed as “independent Labour” on the council website. He was suspended for four months last year following claims he leaked information to the Liberal Democrats, an allegation he has denied.
Meanwhile former Labour cabinet minister Tessa Jowell has questioned the council’s priorities as it grapples with government cutbacks.
The MP for Dulwich and West Norwood has written to Steve Reed querying his decision to axe the council’s park rangers.
“I do hope you could consider alternative solutions that will allow this valuable service to be maintained,” she wrote in a letter also released by campaigners, adding her constituents were concerned about public safety.