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Councillors take sides as Ipswich Labour tensions erupt on social media

PUBLISHED: 14:39 20 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:52 20 July 2020

Ipswich borough councillor Alasdair Ross is portfolio holder for public safety and during the lockdown he delivered some PPE in the region: ALASDAIR ROSS

Ipswich borough councillor Alasdair Ross is portfolio holder for public safety and during the lockdown he delivered some PPE in the region: ALASDAIR ROSS

Alasdair Ross

Tensions within Ipswich Labour Party resurfaced on social media over the weekend as a leading councillor appeared to criticise a colleague for retweeting a comment from a controversial left-wing blogger.

Shelly Darwin retweeted this from Rachael Swindon. Picture; TWITTERShelly Darwin retweeted this from Rachael Swindon. Picture; TWITTER

Portfolio holder for public safety Alasdair Ross, who was a regular critic of Jeremy Corbyn during his leadership of the party, tweeted that Labour members should not endorse the views of Rachael Swindon if they want to be taken seriously.

Rachael Swindon is the pseudonym of a keen fan of the former leader whose tweets have been aimed at political opponents and some Labour Party members – many members regarded her as extreme.

Mr Ross’s tweet came just hours after fellow Labour councillor Shelly Darwin, a strong supporter of the former leader who supported Rebecca Long Bailey in the leadership election, had retweeted a Rachael Swindon post.

MORE: Former Labour candidate Jane Basham leaves the party

Alasdair Ross posted this tweet after Shelly Darwin had retweeted from Rachael Swindon. Picture: TWITTERAlasdair Ross posted this tweet after Shelly Darwin had retweeted from Rachael Swindon. Picture: TWITTER

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We could not contact Mr Ross, but he later tweeted that his comment was not aimed at any particular councillor. However it came just hours after Ms Darwin’s tweet – and no other councillors had retweeted a Rachael Swindon post recently.

Ms Darwin said she did not follow Mr Ross’ Twitter feed and had not been aware of his post. She said: “We work together on the North East Ipswich Area Committee but I don’t follow his twitter feed.”

Shelly Darwin. Picture: Simon ParkerShelly Darwin. Picture: Simon Parker

Mr Ross, a former soldier who served in Northern Ireland, the Balkans and in Afghanistan, is one of the best-known political figures in the town and many members say his organisational skills helped to prevent the Ipswich Labour Party being taken over by an influx of new left-wing members after Mr Corbyn’s victory in the leadership election in 2015.

Ipswich Labour agent John Cook said: “There will always be debate between the different wings of the party. That has always been part of political life.”

MORE: Tensions rise in both parties as normal politics returns

Ipswich Labour Party gave clear backing to Sir Keir Starmer in April’s leadership election – and most leading members of the council’s Labour group were keen supporters of him in the election which saw him win a clear majority of the members’ votes in the first ballot of the leadership election which followed the party’s disastrous performance in the 2019 General Election in December.


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