Former top Labour councillor quits party over Corbyn

Susan Dalgety.
Susan Dalgety.
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A FORMER top city councillor and government aide has announced she is resigning her Labour membership because of the “hostile takeover” of the party by Jeremy Corbyn and his followers.

Susan Dalgety, who was deputy leader of the ruling Labour group at the City Chambers for two years and went on to be chief press officer to First Minister Jack McConnell, said the party had been a huge part of her life since she joined it in 1980.

But revealing her decision to quit on Facebook, Ms Dalgety – an Evening News columnist for many years – said: “An unlikely coalition of grumpy old blokes in Lenin caps and wide-eyed Millennials in Converse, aided and abetted by some sinister apparatchiks, now controls our party.

“I have no heart to go over the reasons I am leaving – there are too many, but in the final analysis it boils down to this: the Labour Party I loved is dead.”

Her announcement drew a sympathetic response from many senior figures and former colleagues. Former Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran said on Facebook: “Oh Susan. I’m so sad. What a loss.”

Former councillor Frank Russell said: “Susan, I know how difficult this decision has been for you. I am taking time to consider what I do next.”

And former Labour MP Rosemary McKenna told her: “I know how hard this is Susan so big hugs. I’m staying. But it’s very difficult.”

Ms Dalgety served as a councillor for seven years and then worked for the Evening News before moving to the Scottish Government. She was head of international communications and chief press officer to First Minister Jack McConnell, helping him to pioneer Scottish links with Malawi – an area of work she has continued to be involved in.

In her Facebook post, Ms Dalgety wrote: “I marched behind Labour banners, delivered countless leaflets, cried at election results, especially in 1997 when we won that famous landslide. I was Labour for life – or so I thought.

“Then came Saturday, 12 September 2015. As Jeremy Corbyn was announced as leader of our party, I turned to my husband, and said, through tears ‘Well, our party has just been subject of a hostile takeover – we are finished.’ And so it has turned out.”

She told the Evening News she had no intention of joining another party. She said: “I am still Labour, always will be. At its best the party has transformed our country and improved people’s lives beyond measure, from the NHS to devolution. But the party has changed beyond recognition, it is now the plaything of self-confessed Stalinists, former Trotskyists and failed playground revolutionaries.

“It is one of the toughest decisions I have ever made, but in the end one of the easiest. I just couldn’t stomach it anymore.”

Current Labour group leader Cammy Day said Ms Dalgety’s departure was “disappointing” but said he hoped national issues would not affect her view of the party’s work in the city.

“She has made her own decision for her own reasons, but I would hope she remains supportive of Labour in Edinburgh.”