Seeing red over Labour Party rejection

'BAD MANNERS' ... Coun Jane Branley is not happy after hearing her bid to join South Shields Labour Party has been rejected.
'BAD MANNERS' ... Coun Jane Branley is not happy after hearing her bid to join South Shields Labour Party has been rejected.

A SHOCK bid by an opposition councillor to join South Shields Constituency Labour Party has been unanimously rejected.

Coun Jane Branley has been an outspoken opponent of Labour-run South Tyneside Council and has had several run-ins with the party’s hierarchy locally.

But in a surprise move the independent for the Westoe ward recently successfully applied for membership of the Labour Party nationally.

The 64-year-old, a Labour councillor more than 20 years ago, had decided to “go back to my political roots” as a result of her anger at current Government policies.

Now her hopes of reconciling herself with the party locally appear forlorn.

On Friday night a meeting of the South Shields party’s executive committee unanimously rejected her bid.

And the committee is also to write to party officials nationally to “strongly object” to her application.

A senior Labour Party source said: “The constituency executive rejected Ms Branley’s application for membership with descent.

“Members find it incredulous that Jane Branley, after the way in which she has consistently attacked the Labour council and the Labour party over a number of years, that she feels we would welcome her with open arms.

“The simple fact is because of her behaviour over a number of years, we rejected her application.”

Coun John Anglin, secretary of the Labour council, added: “I can confirm that the constituency executive considered and rejected Jane Branley’s application and we will be advising head office accordingly.”

When the Gazette asked Coun Branley for her reaction, she said it was the first she had heard of it.

She said: “I think it’s very interesting that I learnt about this from the Shields Gazette and not from the local Labour party.

“I think it’s the height of bad manners that someone couldn’t have contacted me directly and told me.

“I will be contacting the national Labour party and finding out if that means I cannot be a member of the party overall.”

Speaking before the executive’s decision, Coun Branley, who represented Labour for Westoe in the late 1980s and early 1990s, said: “I have already joined the Labour Party - I am a card-carrying member.

“I have always been loyal to Labour nationally and decided to re-assert my national affinity to the party as a result of my deep concerns at the policies this Tory-led government is pushing through, all of which I believe to be to the detriment of the vast majority of people in South Tyneside.

“Despite becoming an independent I remained a member of the Labour Party until eight years ago. My background is as a feminist and I was an active trade unionist for many years also.

“I took the decision to rejoin the party on my own. I told no one and didn’t consult with anyone. It was a purely personal thing.

“I applied for membership online, was accepted, my money was taken and I was told my application would be passed on to the local Labour Party.

“I have had many run-ins with the local Labour Party over the years. But I would have hoped the executive would have grabbed with both hands the political opportunity to have an opposition member become an active member of the Labour Party.”

Coun Branley is due to stand for re-election in the Westoe ward in May next year.

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul

VETERAN councillor Jane Branley has spoken for the first time of her battle with lung cancer.

The Westoe ward representative revealed she had undergone radiotherapy treatment and was “positive over the future” after being diagnosed with advanced cancer in May, 2011.

Although she has not received the all-clear she expressed determination to “get on with her life”.

Until this time she had preferred to keep her condition private, to protect her family.

She said: “Yes I have lung cancer and I have had a huge amount of radiotherapy treatment. You can never say it is fully successful or that I’m cured.

“But it is successful in the sense that it has not spread.”

Coun Branley added: “It has been a very difficult couple of years, the treatment in the first year was particularly onerous.

“It was one of the reasons I have not been as politically active as I have been in the past, although I have gone to as many meetings as I could. It definitely, definitely slows you down.

“My attitude is really just to get on with life and hope the cancer does not spread. You’ve just got to go on living, as a lot of other people in a similar position do.”