Barking councillor suspended from Labour Party

The Labour Party has suspended a Barking councillor after accusing him of campaigning for the Conservatives.

Cllr Ralph Baldwin’s membership was cancelled on Tuesday after London Labour claimed he had admitted to “actively” campaigning for the Conservatives and against the Labour Party in an email written by him and circulated within Labour circles.

Cllr Baldwin maintains that he merely suggested he may campaign for the Conservatives in the message to Will Straw, son of former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, after sharing his grievances about the Labour Party.

He said the email stated that he could campaign for the Tories unless Labour gave up “blatant nepotism” and “focus again on equality and on representing the people”.

However, in another email exchange, which he shared with the Post, he had tried to arrange a meeting with Conservative London Assembly member Gareth Bacon or London Mayor Boris Johnson, stating that he was “seriously miffed with Labour” and that he was “considering crossing the floor”.

The former law student and ex-serviceman was elected as a councillor for Mayesbrook Ward, Barking, in May 2010 when the party won all seats. He spoke to the Post about his disillusionment with politics and with the way the council is run.

Cllr Baldwin said: “I certainly am unhappy with the decline in representational democracy which has been replaced on local authorities by a scrutiny system that I believe leaves the vast majority of decision making to less than 10 councillors, in effect, rendering the other councillors fairly redundant.”

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He added that he would remain on the council as an independent member for now.

A spokesman for London Labour Party said: “After carefully considering the evidence supplied by Labour Group officers on Barking and Dagenham Council, we have written to Cllr Baldwin to inform him he is the subject of an immediate administrative suspension.

“This means that the Labour whip has been removed from Cllr Baldwin and he must not represent the Labour Party at any level, pending further inquiries.”