Featherstone councillor Dick Taylor to leave Labour and stand as independent in 2022 local elections

A long-serving Labour councillor, who claimed the party had "stabbed me in the back", will stand against them as an independent candidate this May.

Dick Taylor will square up against his former colleagues in Featherstone at this year's local elections.

Coun Taylor, who was first voted onto Wakefield Council to serve the Featherstone ward in 2010, was deselected by Labour as an election candidate earlier this year.

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The move, which followed punishment from the party for his social media activity in 2018 and 2020, prompted him to complain he'd been ousted by "cloak and dagger".

Councillor Taylor said encouragement from people within Featherstone had prompted him to stand.

Councillor Taylor said he was "very sad" to be leaving the party, of which he said he'd been a lifelong supporter.

But he said his decision to stand as an independent had been prompted by encouragement from people in Featherstone.

Coun Taylor said: "If I hadn’t had that support then I don’t think I’d have gone for it.

"I’m getting on in years a bit now but I’m fit and well. If I wasn’t fit and well then I wouldn’t be standing, but I feel good.

"If I don’t get elected, I don’t get elected. I’m quite philosophical about it.

"But I’d rather the people of Featherstone vote me out than a dozen people in the Labour Party."

Coun Taylor said he'd written twice to Labour to complain about the way he was deselected, but had not had a response.

He said this contributed to his decision to walk away from the party.

He added: "I’ve tried to contact them on a number of occasions now but they haven’t replied. It sticks in the craw a bit.

"I’m just so sad and disappointed about it."

In response, a Labour spokesperson said: "Labour candidates are democratically chosen by local party members based on long standing party rules, no-one is exempt from that process.

"It is right that due consideration is given to the suitability and behaviour of potential candidates."

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.

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".

Local Democracy Reporting Service