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Councillor quits Labour group in row over 'underhand deals'

Party's 'pettiness and indiscipline' too much for back bench member as he resigns

Labour party member Ian Cruise

Claims that backbench Labour councillors are being overlooked by the leadership have been inflamed with the resignation of a rank and file councillor.

Longbridge councillor Ian Cruise announced he had left the party complaining he found the squabbling and underhand deals too much.

Coun Cruise was once an ambitious and high-flying member of the Labour group but will now sit as an independent until his term of office ends in 2018.

The former Communications Workers Union official enjoyed a successful year after being elected as chairman of the council’s economy and jobs scrutiny committee in 2012, but has since been overlooked or rejected by colleagues in his pursuit of a top role.

Some ex-colleagues dismissed his resignation as the frustrated act of someone who missed out.

The move came as little surprise as over the last year the councillor had become increasingly distant from colleagues and more openly critical of the leadership.

In 2014, he won a second four-year term following a gruelling election campaign in which he saw off a strong challenge from UKIP.

But, in his parting comments, Coun Cruise complained not for the first time about bickering, squabbling and stitch-ups, saying too many in the Labour group were interested only in their own advancement and securing paid jobs rather than a pure pursuit of political change.

He said on Twitter: “I don’t wish to be associated with a party condoning indiscipline, pettiness, underhand deals for power.”

It has been a testing year for the Labour group with Sir Albert Bore’s leadership coming under challenge in the wake of widespread discontent over the handling of the Trojan Horse scandal and the damning Kerslake report.

Coun Cruise, who has been living with depression and is a campaigner for mental health services, said: “I found being a member of the Labour group and all the shenanigans was affecting me personally, it was making me ill.

“There are good people in the Labour group and some good friends, but I could not continue. I feel a weight has been lifted.”

He said he remained a social democrat and shared many Labour values, he could never jump ship to another party, but found the party machine too much.

Coun Cruise added he had also found the ongoing national leadership election to be “a bit of an embarrassment”.

He insisted he would maintain all his duties as a local councillor until his term of office expired in 2018.

One senior Labour group member said they were disappointed to lose such a passionate politician but added they did not feel the Birmingham Labour party was any more divided by internal disputes than other organisation.

Several colleagues wished Coun Cruise well in future. Coun John O’Shea (Lab Acocks Green) tweeted: “Just going to wish Ian Cruise all the best as an independent member of BCC. Got a lot of time for him.”

While Coun Matt Bennett (Con Edgbaston) said: “Good for Ian Cruise for sticking by his beliefs. Disagree with him on many things but he has a lot of integrity.”

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