Councillor resigns Labour whip

SUFFOLK'S only black councillor has resigned the county's Labour whip in a row over his future prospects as a black politician. Harold Mangar, one of the most respected figures in Labour politics in the county, will now sit as an Independent Labour councillor, and says: “Black men will not get very far in the Suffolk Labour Party.

SUFFOLK'S only black councillor has resigned the county's Labour whip in a row over his future prospects as a black politician.

Harold Mangar, one of the most respected figures in Labour politics in the county, will now sit as an Independent Labour councillor, and says: “Black men will not get very far in the Suffolk Labour Party.”

Mr Mangar says he has been pondering his decision for several months and had already quit as chairman of the Labour group of county councillors. Last week, he decided he'd had enough and this week resigned the whip.

“I have not resigned from the party. I am waiting to see if unitary government is introduced before making up my mind whether to defend my seat as an independent in next year's elections.

“There is a culture in the Labour Party which lays down that women are to be given winnable seats in preference to men. Encouraging minority ethnic candidates has all but disappeared in the overriding priority to get as many women as possible elected.

“I am the only councillor in Suffolk from an ethnic minority background. That is not a record of which the Labour Party can be proud.”

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Mr Mangar, who is waiting to go into hospital for a lumber root injection, feels let down by the support he received following his involvement in a fatal car crash two years' ago near Lowestoft.

He resigned as a Labour representative on the Suffolk police authority following the crash but when he was cleared by the courts, he lost his position on the authority, being replaced by a woman.

Labour's county group leader Julian Swainson said Mr Hangar had been “a valued member” and “we are proud of his many achievements over the years as a Labour councillor.

“Following his involvement in a fatal road accident and other personal difficulties Harold has clearly been under considerable stress, and we have not expected him to be able to continue his previous level of involvement as a Labour county councillor in Ipswich. Labour party colleagues have done their best to give Harold support and friendship through this difficult time.”

Mr Swainson added: “Harold has suffered some intolerably stressful events in the last couple of years, and I greatly regret that this stress appears to have driven him to take a decision to put his own interests before those of his constituents and colleagues.

“Local elections decide policy on matters we all care about, and we know many Ipswich residents want Labour councillors to stand up to the Tories.”