Politicians in Ashfield have rallied in support of under-fire Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, after the district’s MP took part in a Shadow Cabinet coup at the weekend.
Gloria De Piero was the second Labour front-bencher to resign on Sunday, following the overnight sacking of Hilary Benn MP for plotting to bring down Mr Corbyn.
Ms De Piero last night defended her decision, saying she has the support of Labour voters around Ashfield.
But now a letter has been sent to Labour Party officials, signed by Ashfield District Council leader Councillor Cheryl Butler, deputy leader Don Davis, and cabinet members Tim Brown, Keir Morrison, and Jackie James.
They are join by more than 30 leading councillors and activists from around Ashfield and Sherwood to offer their support for Mr Corbyn, and opposing a call of ‘no confidence’ against the embattled party leader activated by the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Coun Butler has condemned the way Sunday’s resignations had been carried out, and said that Ms De Piero and the other front bench rebels were at odds with grassroots Labour support.
She said: “We were actually putting together this letter before the resignations started and it is not aimed at any one member in particular, but at all those who are calling ‘no confidence’.
“Jeremy Corbyn was overwhelmingly supported in our area and we felt that a democratic party cannot overturn a democratically elected leader.
“It’s the way they all went about it as well. If they had all gone in and resigned as a whole it would have been one thing - but this was a deliberately contrived media circus aimed as causing maximum damage.
“They were almost going in one per hour throughout the day to cause as much damage as they could.
“This is incredibly frustrating. We should be focusing on fighting the Tories, but all we are doing is in-fighting with ourselves.”
Ms De Piero resigned from her role as Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Registration at around 11.20 on Sunday - the second of 11 big Labour hitters to walk yesterday.
The resignations have continued into today (Monday), although the majority are from minor ministerial roles - including Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins.
The open letter states: “We do not need to remind you that Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader with the largest mandate of any political leader less than a year ago.
“He was elected by the membership standing on labour values based on justice , freedom, solidarity and equality for all and bringing about real change. He created a movement of grass root activists that other parties can only envy and the Labour Party membership is the highest in recent memory, half of whom joined since he became leader.
“We feel the motion tabled is based on political opportunism and some of the members of the PLP are using the brexit vote to further their cause to damage and dispose our democratically elected leader.They have never really accepted or respected him or indeed the memberships decision to elect him.
“Both Ashfield and Sherwood Constituency Labour Parties convincingly nominated Jeremy during the leadership campaign.
“We would also draw your attention to the on line petition of confidence in Jeremy that in only one day gained in excess of 160,000 signatures showing that the membership who have put their names to this, have absolute confidence in Jeremy, his values, vision and key team.
“Actions such as this motion from those Parliamentary Labour Party members who continually look to divide our party, are furthering an agenda of division and are working against the progression of party unity and moving forward to elect a Labour government.”
Ms De Piero has been both supported and criticised by readers on the Chad’s Facebook page over the weekend, but the former GMTV reporter, who was reelected in 2015, said she stands by her decision.
She said: “I have been contacted by many local Labour members since I took the difficult decision of leaving the shadow cabinet.
“Many members support my decision. Others don’t.
“I have also been contacted by Labour voters in Ashfield and every one of them has backed my decision.
“I have read every email but one sticks in my mind and it is from that email that I quote: ‘I am writing to you with regards to your resignation from the shadow cabinet. You have the 100 per cent support of myself and my family, we have been lifelong Labour supporters...it is with sadness that I need to inform you that my whole family will not vote Labour if Jeremy Corbyn is still in charge”.
“Ashfield needs a Labour government and we need a leader who can deliver that.
“I am only in this job to work and help the people of Ashfield and I will continue to do so. My constituents will always come first.”
Pictured - Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero (top) and Ashfield District Council Leader Cheryl Butler.