Third councillor quits Labour

Former deputy leader is latest to leave party and join ‘Community First’ group, reports James Cracknell

Daniel Anderson has become the third Enfield councillor to quit Labour and join a new group of independents, describing his former party’s local group as an “unholy mess”.

Cllr Anderson joins Derek Levy and Dinah Barry under the ‘Community First’ banner on Enfield Council, with all three former Labour councillors saying they could no longer work with council leader Nesil Caliskan.

Cllr Levy, a Southgate ward member, and Cllr Barry, representing Winchmore Hill, recently told the Dispatch that they quit Labour because they felt better able to serve the needs of residents as independent councillors. It comes amid a growing division within the local Labour group between those loyal to Cllr Caliskan and those who have been critical of her leadership since she deposed Doug Taylor in May 2018.

Cllr Anderson’s reasons for leaving Labour are more complex, having already been suspended from the party after being found to have breached the council’s code of conduct, following an internal investigation into complaints about his “bullying” behaviour towards officers.

In a statement released last night, the Southgate Green councillor explained that he had tried to get a full explanation for his suspension from the Labour Party’s governance and legal unit (GLU), without success. He argues there have been “hypocritical” double standards from the party’s national leadership, since Cllr Caliskan went unpunished by the party when she herself was found last year to have breached the council’s code of conduct, in two separate cases. While Cllr Anderson’s case is still subject to an appeal, Cllr Calsikan lost her appeal against the ruling that she bullied Labour colleague Yasemin Brett.

Cllr Anderson said: “To date, the GLU has failed to explain the full reasons for my suspension. Nor have they had the decency to respond to any communications I have sent seeking clarification, which is a betrayal of natural justice.

“This, in spite of Cllr Caliskan publicly stating that the reason for my suspension is directly related to the alleged findings of an internal investigation by Enfield Council’s monitoring officer that was and is still – six months later – subject to appeal to the councillor conduct committee.

“Furthermore, though the said letter stated that I was to remain subject to the Labour group whip, Cllr Caliskan nonetheless violated the terms of my suspension by choosing to remove me from all group communications, and at the council AGM [annual general meeting] last month I was not put on any council committees or panels, which has limited my representational role.

“Significantly, the GLU has not explained its somewhat hypocritical stance in suspending me, while it has resolutely refused and continues to refuse either to sanction or suspend Cllr Caliskan who was found guilty of breaches of the same code of conduct on two separate occasions.”

A spokesperson for the Labour Party declined to comment on the matter when approached by the Dispatch. Cllr Caliskan has also not responded to requests for comment.

Similar to his Community First colleagues Cllr Levy and Cllr Barry, Cllr Anderson, a deputy leader of the council as recently as 2019, says that he is still committed to “Labour values and principles” as well as fulfilling the manifesto he was elected on. However, he adds: “The Labour Party should hang its collective head in shame, not just for the way that it has treated me, given my many years of service, but also for its consistent failure to tackle the unholy mess within Enfield Labour group and the unacceptable behaviour of Cllr Caliskan.

“Instead it has seemingly decided that political expediency is the path of least resistance.”

Cllr Barry, the group leader of Community First, said she was “happy to welcome Cllr Anderson, who has always put service to the residents of Enfield first”.