A former UKIP councillor is now standing for election with Labour. And it’s really not OK

UKIP Gutted Brexit
Steve Topple

It has emerged that a former Conservative and UKIP councillor is standing in May’s local elections, prior to the general election in June. Not for Nigel Farage’s party, though – but for Labour. And it shows the shortsightedness at the heart of Jeremy Corbyn’s party surrounding last year’s ‘purge’; as with the general election looming on 8 June, Labour needs all the support it can get.

Not a Tory

Richard Lowe is a Welsh Labour candidate for the Stonebridge ward of Saltney Town Council. But he has had a colourful political past. Originally, Lowe was a Tory councillor in Chester. But in April 2011, he defected to UKIP, saying:

I’ve not joined UKIP just because I’m a disillusioned Tory. I’ve joined because their policies are so much more in tune with my own.

Not a Kipper

But then, in March 2013, Lowe switched again. This time, to the Liberal Democrats. He said at the time:

I feel more at home with the Lib Dems. I was forced to resign [from] UKIP… because I dared to support equal marriage and immigration. Positions like these are not allowed within UKIP.

Not a turncoat

The Lib Dems, however, didn’t seem to satisfy Lowe. Because at some point, he left the party to join Labour. And he has been an open critic of Corbyn.

Lowe’s Twitter bio says he aligns himself with “Fabian/Progress/Labour First”. This may go some way in explaining why Labour is allowing a former Tory and UKIP councillor, and member of the Lib Dems, to stand as a candidate. Because the decision seems to go against the 2016 furore surrounding Corbyn and supposed ‘entryism’ into the party.

Not purged

As The Canary reported at the time, Labour’s ‘Compliance Unit’ was expelling members and potential members from the party, often for historically showing support for other parties. The party, for example, rejected one potential member’s application because:

You tweeted in support of the Green Party on 5 July 2016.

The recipient got in touch with The Canary. They said:

I do have some views that were, before Corbyn, considered ‘radical’. For example, I am against war and murdering civilians for oil. I care about the environment because it’s the foundation of all life (I’m vegan). I don’t think a tiny elite of 0.1% of people should stockpile wealth in offshore bank accounts while others around the world starve or in this country face homelessness and food banks.

Not hypocrisy. Much

So although it is apparently not OK to tweet in support of the Green Party once, you can be a councillor for the two main right-wing parties in the UK, and be a member of the Lib Dems – and still stand for election with Labour. But while the party has welcomed people like Lowe into its fold, the damage last year’s purge may have done could come back to haunt it on 8 June.

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