Left-wing faction in row with Labour leader over Portsmouth local elections

John Ferrett
John Ferrett
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THE leader of Portsmouth’s Labour group says a left-wing faction is targeting him at the local elections because of his opposition to Jeremy Corbyn.

Councillor John Ferrett is preparing to defend his seat in Paulsgrove on May 5.

Tusc in only running one candidate shows its weakness in that many former Tusc members have now joined the Labour Party. It’s a gesture Tusc is making, but it is a futile gesture.

Councillor John Ferrett, Labour group leader

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in recent city elections has fielded candidates in every area – but this time has only chosen to go for Cllr Ferrett’s ward on the council.

The Labour official has called the move a ‘futile’ attempt to get him out and pave the way for a future Labour candidate who backs Mr Corbyn and supports ‘illegal’ council budgets that do not account for cuts or balance.

And he warns Tusc’s motive will backfire and see the Tories or Ukip gaining more votes instead.

Cllr Ferrett said: ‘Tusc, in only running one candidate, shows its weakness in that many former Tusc members have now joined the Labour Party.

‘It’s a gesture Tusc is making, but it is a futile gesture.

‘But I understand why it is making it, because I am not a fan of Jeremy Corbyn.

‘But I am in a position where I am supporting what Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have said in that candidates must agree to the setting of legal budgets.

‘Yet Tusc is running a candidate against that, so it’s very confusing.’

He added: ‘Tusc is no friend of the Labour Party – it’s the enemy of the party.’

Tusc says it is going after Cllr Ferrett because of his politics.

Paulsgrove Tusc candidate Chris Pickett said: ‘We have worked with Portsmouth Momentum (a branch of the Labour Party) in opposing cuts and have written to Portsmouth candidates asking them to pledge to oppose all cuts.

‘We will be supporting those who have agreed to that.

‘But we will be standing against John Ferrett because he has consistently chosen to vote alongside the Tories.’

Cllr Ferrett believes Labour has a good chance of picking up seats given the government’s dispute over the EU and the row over prime minister David Cameron’s income and tax affairs in light of the Panama Papers scandal.

Cllr Luke Stubbs, Tory deputy council leader, said: ‘Obviously, it’s a matter for Tusc where it stands candidates.

‘But it appears to be wholly self-destructive to attempt to unseat a Labour incumbent where the only realistic alternative is a candidate to the right.’