ALL five Respect councillors on Bradford Council have resigned from the party following a row involving party officials and MP George Galloway.
The five issued a statement which claimed they had been subject to defamatory statements which had not been retracted.
They also claimed a lack of transparent structures in the party.
The five temporarily resigned in August but said today that they have now left the party altogether.
Two had previously been suspended for criticising Mr Galloway’s plans to stand for London mayor in the 2016 election.
The five councillors are Alyas Karmani - who was Respect group leader - deputy leader Ruqaya Collector, Faisal Khan, Ishtiaq Ahmed and Mohammed Shabbir.
A statement signed by the five councillors said: “To date our rightful and legitimate request for a full and unconditional retraction of defamatory statements and allegations made against our group of councillors collectively and individually have not been met.”
The statement said discussions with Respect officials had failed to address their concerns.
“After much deliberation this has left our group no choice but to fully resign from the Respect party with immediate effect and hence forth we will continue to operate as a group of independent councillors for the remainder of our term. This decision has not been made lightly and we are saddened that certain ‘gatekeepers’ involved in Bradford Respect appear to have no interest in transparency, accountability and equity.”
The statement added: “Needless to say we will remain committed to the electorate and will continue to advocate for the citizens of Bradford and work hard for the interests of our constituents and we will continue to represent them in Council on the issues that affect them in the dstrict. “
A statement from a Respect spokesman: “This is not about principle, or policy, but self-interest and a naked attempt by the five councillors and one ally to control the party in Bradford. They proposed a constitution which would have given them absolute power in the party in the city. It came to a head when they proposed installing their ally in what they considered to be a safe seat at the forthcoming May election. These machinations were rejected by the national party. Since then they have continued to act against Respect.”
The statement said the five had been “invisible” in the council chamber.
“If they had a shred of principle they would now resign their council seats and stand again in their new colours. Or will they instead continue to draw thousands of pounds of public money until they are removed by the voters?”
Senior Labour Councillor Ralph Berry tweeted his own thoughts on the developments, saying “the end of the Bradford Spring” - an echo of a famous comment made by Mr Galloway when he was elected to represent Bradford West.
Mr Berry said: “I think the manner of the whole Respect situation is typical of the conduct of hard left Leninist authoritarian politics where the cult of the Leader rules.
I think the councillors are now doing the right thing. It means the aspirations George claimed to be supporting were cynically used and then dropped.”