A DEFECTOR from Labour to the Greens in South Tyneside is to challenge the man who took his job at May’s Local Elections.
Matthew Giles, 24, was formerly the youth officer for Jarrow Constituency Labour Party, but he lost a ballot last September to Adam Ellison, who has now taken over the role.
Now Mr Giles has left Labour and will stand for the Green Party against Mr Ellison in Hebburn North on Thursday, May 7.
The recording studio sound engineer, of Mill Crescent, Hebburn, joined the Labour Party four years ago but believes his anti-war and anti-austerity views have in recent months put him at odds with the local party.
Despite his departure from Labour, he has pledged to “run a positive campaign with no sniping”.
He said: “I don’t think my views fitted with the party. I was offered the chance to be a Labour candidate in Westerhope, in Newcastle, but I wanted to represent the place where I lived, but I couldn’t get considered by the party locally.
“I felt I was being prevented from going further because of my views and my refusal to toe the line.”
Since joining the Greens at the end of last year, Mr Giles said he had found the party “a perfect fit”.
He added: “It’s been an incredibly positive experience, and the people involved with the party locally are really enthusiastic.
“On the doorstep we have heard from people wanting to vote Green but have been unable to because of a lack of candidates. They end up voting Labour as the lesser of two evils.
“I’m planning to run a positive campaign, with no sniping. We’re under no illusions we are going to win everywhere but it’s about building up our base and giving people the chance to vote Green in every ward.”
Meanwhile, in his role with the Tyneside branch of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, Mr Giles is helping organise a rally in Newcastle on Saturday against Pegida, the anti-Muslim organisation.
It is to be attended by campaigning comedian Russell Brand and controversial MP George Galloway.
Wilf Flynn, secretary of Jarrow Constituency Labour Party, said he felt Mr Giles was “jumping onto the Green bandwagon”.
He said: “I can’t accept that Matthew wasn’t given a chance with the Labour Party, he was on our Local Government Panel and he could have stood against Adam when he beat Ian Harkus in Labour North.
“I find it strange that Matthew is not standing in the ward where he lives – Hebburn South.
“Perhaps he didn’t feel he could take on Eddie McAtominey.
“He was our youth officer and then lost the next time on a ballot to Adam. Matthew knows his own mind but I feel he’s jumped on the Green bandwagon.
“I don’t have a crystal ball but I don’t foresee a wedge of Green MPs after the next election – but every vote taken away from Labour will make it more likely that Cameron gets a majority.
“I know Matthew wouldn’t want that.”