Southend councillor resigns from Labour

A former Southend Labour councillor has resigned from the party and revealed she was left feeling suicidal after being suspended.

Kathy Murphy has been sitting as a non-aligned councillor for St Luke’s since her suspension after a misconduct complaint was made against her at the Labour Conference in September 2022.

On Friday, Ms Murphy revealed the suspension has now been lifted but she has decided to resign and will remain a non-aligned councillor– pointing the finger at “the toxicity of the group”.

Her resignation comes as the Labour party prepares to form a coalition with the Lib Dem and Independent Group to take control of Southend-on-Sea City Council.

According to Cllr Murphy she was suspended after questioning why she had not been able to vote at the conference, sparking a 19-month inquiry.

She said: “I challenged my fellow delegate on voting without including me when the process clearly states delegates should vote together. For 19 months, the case dragged on with little contact, finally concluding a short time ago.

“This whole experience has negatively impacted on my mental health, to the point I reached suicidal ideation in summer last year. The Labour Party were fully aware, yet I only had one phone call with their national safeguarding team whilst the Southend Labour Group were permitted to continue to ostracise and shun me. The Labour Party did nothing to protect me.”

The Southend Labour Group has seen six female councillors resign in recent years.

The group also faced criticism following the deselection of two of its councillors, Aston Line and former leader Stephen George. Mr George launched a scathing attack on the Labour leadership citing bullying, misogyny and toxicity at his final council meeting.

Cllr Murphy said: “I agree with what was said because of my own experiences which I have made known to the party over the past few years which they failed to properly investigate.

“The party is not safe for me, and I have concerns that it is not a safe space for socialists and those with left leaning views. To safeguard my health and wellbeing, I’m left with no option but to resign from my position in the party as it has become untenable.”

She added: “Despite the numerous complaints and reports to the Labour Party about the conduct of the current leader and his partner over the years, they both remain in the party.

“I choose not to support this any longer nor will I be part of any collusion by keeping quiet any longer.”

Labour Group leader Daniel Cowan said he wouldn’t comment on Ms Murphy’s resignation and allegations, but stated: “We are very happy with our group. We’re the largest group we’ve ever been. We’re 55 per cent women and we’re very happy with our councillors and we look forward to winning more seats in the future.”

The eastern region Labour Party was contacted to comment.

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter