Two Labour town councillors, including the stepmother of Cherie Blair, have resigned from the party amid what they claim is a takeover by left-wing supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.
Councillors Steph Booth, a former Mayor of Todmorden, and Michael Hatfield will remain on the town council as independents.
Coun Booth is the widow of the late actor Tony Booth, whose son-in-law was former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and she said she had experienced bullying because of that family link.
An incident, which they claim resulted in them being unfairly suspended from group membership, brought matters to a head when they both nominated Liberal Democrat Julia Grieve for the position of deputy mayor in 2018-19 over party colleague Joan Taylor, who was eventually elected to the position. But they say the changing nature of the local party has also forced them out.
In their letter of resignation, they claim: “The Party has been taken over by the hard-left... decent individuals who voice an alternative view are at best referred to as ‘Blairites’ (now a term of abuse for many), though increasingly they are being bullied and hounded out of the party.”
Although they cite disagreements over party policy on issues such as Brexit, they say a low point was reached following their backing of Coun Grieve over Coun Taylor, being unable to attend what they call a “hastily arranged” group meeting which had voted to suspend them from the Labour group for 14 months as a result.
The council’s Labour group leader David Tattersall said he had seen no evidence of bullying.
“We treat each other with respect and professionally. We don’t bully people,” he said.
He added that in a democratic political party people were not going to agree all the time. “There are some people in the Labour Party who aren’t very keen on the Blairite agenda,” said Coun Tattersall.