Featherstone Labour councillor Dick Taylor claims party have 'stabbed me in the back' after he's deselected

A Labour councillor has hit out at his party for "stabbing me in the back" after he was deselected as a candidate for this year's local elections.

By David Spereall
Wednesday, 23rd February 2022, 9:28 am

Dick Taylor has represented Featherstone on Wakefield Council since 2010 and been a Labour Party member for 30 years.

But Councillor Taylor has been blocked from standing for the party for a fourth term in May after losing a vote at his local party branch to another candidate.

Coun Taylor said he'd been ousted in a "cloak and dagger" affair, which had left him "dumbfounded".

Coun Taylor has represented the Featherstone ward since 2010.

He is now considering standing as an independent candidate.

He said he'd subsequently been told his deselection was linked to him being suspended by Labour on two previous occasions for his social media activity, in 2018 and 2020.

Coun Taylor said: "It came out of the blue really. I'd no idea that there was any problem until recently.

"I'm wondering what I've done wrong. I've worked my backside off representing the town for the past 12 to 15 years.

Coun Taylor claimed Wakefield's Labour group had rescinded an offer to be the district's mayor. The group said in response that he'd have been an "inappropriate" choice for the role.

"I feel quite badly done to by the Labour Party. It's the way it's been done.

"Nobody came and told me to my face they had a problem with me. If they approached me and asked me to stand down, at my age I probably would have done.

"I feel stabbed in the back."

In 2018, Coun Taylor was suspended on the eve of the local elections for a series of Facebook posts, which used a derogatory term to describe then Prime Minister Theresa May and other Tory politicians.

The local elections for council seats take place in May.

He later admitted his language had been "over the top", though he stood by the spirit of the posts.

Two years later he was in hot water again after suggesting footballers should wear "All Lives Matter" on their shirts instead of "Black Lives Matter".

In another post he shared a picture depicting someone reading a large book, captioned "Understanding Women" is out now in paperback".

Speaking on Wednesday, Councillor Taylor defended that specific post again, saying he'd been "telling a joke".

He added: "I've made my living as a club entertainer, I've earned my money telling jokes.

"What people now find inappropriate they used to find hilarious.

"I am seriously considering standing as an independent candidate. I've had lots of encouragement from people who know me and I've got to make a decision in the next couple of weeks.

"If I do stand then it would be a very sad day for me. I've only ever voted Labour. I've never voted any other way.

"I've fought for a bypass for Featherstone for a long time, because the town desperately needs it.

"If I don't stand again, then my biggest disappointment will be that I'm no longer in a position to fight for it."

Coun Taylor also claimed Wakefield's Labour group had offered him the district's deputy mayorship from next year, with a view to him to becoming mayor in 2024.

He claimed that offer was later rescinded and he lost in a vote to another candidate who was subsequently put forward.

He said he'd also applied to be a scrutiny committee chair, but that was rejected, and he believes both events are linked to a desire to jettison him from the group.

Councillor Taylor has not attended a council meeting in 2022, despite officially sitting on two committees.

Defending this record, he said he'd missed one meeting due to Covid, but admitted that his deselection had eroded his enthusiasm for others, which he described as "tedious".

He added: "Since all this I don't feel enthusiastic about it.

"In full council meetings we have pointless motions put forward. The Labour Party tells you which way to vote beforehand and I'm just bored to tears by it. I find them totally tedious.

"Some things I find interesting, but since being deselected I've not had the urge (to attend)."

Responding to Coun Taylor's comments, Labour's chief whip, Councillor Richard Forster said: "We expect all elected members of the Labour group to uphold the highest standards of integrity and treat all people with dignity and respect.

"Coun Taylor was subject to Labour group disciplinary action in 2020 as a result of inappropriate comments and posts on social media.

"Following an investigation, Coun Taylor was given a final written warning and removed from his position of chair of licensing.

"The mayor and deputy mayor of the council act as an ambassador for the local authority and must live up to the high standards expected of this position.

"Given Coun Taylor’s actions, it would have been inappropriate for the Labour group to nominate him to such a role.”

"Labour group nominations for chairs of scrutiny are elected via a democratic process, based on who members believe to be the best person for the job."

Local Democracy Reporting Service