Fresh tensions in Portsmouth Labour Party over Jeremy Corbyn’s influence on members

The Labour Party's new chairwoman in Portsmouth Sue Castillon
The Labour Party's new chairwoman in Portsmouth Sue Castillon
'Youthquake' helped attract young voters to Jeremy Corbyn's Labour campaign in May's general election. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

‘Youthquake’ named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries - but what does it mean?

  • Labour councillors say they’ve been accused of ‘selling out’ for backing Tory council budget
  • Left-wing approach ‘won’t win back votes’ say anti-Corbyn brigade
  • But Castillon calls on party to unite behind fight to get Labour councillors elected
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PORTSMOUTH Labour Party members remain at loggerheads as Jeremy Corbyn’s influence on the party’s political direction grows.

Fresh tensions have arisen in light of Sue Castillon’s appointment as the new Portsmouth Labour Party chairwoman.

We have got these people, who seem to have a certain ideology, a left-wing ideology, who are trying to portray the Labour group as some sort of sell out, which is disrespectful.

Councillor Aiden Gray, Portsmouth deputy Labour group leader

Critics say the election of Ms Castillon – who stood for Labour in Portsmouth South at this year’s general election – means Mr Corbyn’s supporters are now ‘firmly in control’ of the party.

Labour councillors say adopting a left-wing approach ‘won’t win back votes’ – and are angry they’ve been accused of ‘selling out’ for supporting the Tory-run council’s 2016/2017 budget.

But Ms Castillon has pleaded for unity and says she wants to ‘get on with the job’ getting Labour councillors elected. Portsmouth Labour council group leader, Cllr John Ferrett said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters are now firmly in control of the party in Portsmouth. Sue and her colleagues have been elected by the members in Portsmouth. My reservations about Jeremy Corbyn are well known. It just confirms the direction of the party and the way it’s moving in. But my position has not changed – I will continue to persuade people that we need to remain relevant to the electorate in Portsmouth and we need to try and win back votes.

‘I personally do not think we will win back voters moving the party in a left-centric direction.’

Deputy Portsmouth Labour group leader, Cllr Aiden Gray, said: ‘We have got these people, who seem to have a certain ideology, a left-wing ideology, who are trying to portray the Labour group as some sort of sell-out, which is disrespectful.’

The problems comes after the Portsmouth Labour Party flipped a coin to try and elect a new chairperson at its AGM in November.

But the result was shot down by members and the meeting was adjourned until last week. It was then Ms Castillon was elected, with 70 members in favour and 64 against.

Ms Castillon said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn was duly elected by the members as our leader, so we need to get right behind him and get on with the job.

‘The direction of the party as far as I’m concerned is the same as it always has been.’