Express & Star

Sandwell councillor who backed Jeremy Corbyn quits Labour amid 'bid to join Tories' claim

A councillor who wanted Jeremy Corbyn in Number 10 has quit Sandwell Labour amid claims he is planning to join the Conservatives.

Last updated
Sandwell Council House in Oldbury

Councillor Ahmad Bostan, who represents Abbey ward on Sandwell Council, sat for the first time as an independent councillor at this week's full council meeting.

It comes amid claims he has applied to join the Conservative Party – despite previously heaping praise on Jeremy Corbyn and speaking out against "Tory tyranny".

In a statement to the Star, Councillor Bostan hit out at Labour's "entrenched institutionalised racism" and said the party no longer "represents the interests of working people".

He accused Sandwell Labour of wasting millions of pounds of public money and failing residents by planning to increase charges for parking and green waste during the cost of living crisis.

Councillor Ahmad Bostan now sits as an independent

Sources told the Star that former Cabinet member Mr Bostan has applied to join the Conservative Party. He is said to be "under consideration" as a potential candidate at next year's local elections.

Labour council leader Kerrie Carmichael said she had not spoken to Councillor Bostan "for some time" and was "surprised" when he had turned up to Tuesday's meeting and sat as an independent.

She said he had not responded to an email she sent asking if he had joined the Conservatives.

"It’s quite strange that Councillor Bostan – as someone who has been very vocal in the chamber condemning the actions of the Conservatives – would now want to join a party that goes against his principles," she said.

"I wish him luck in whatever happens."

Councillor Bostan was elected in 2019 and is chair of the council's select committee for policy review. He served as a cabinet member for transport and environment before resigning in March.

He has previously said his mentor in politics was Labour's controversial former council deputy leader Mahboob Hussain, who was the centre of corruption allegations during his time with the authority.

As a Labour activist and councillor he has spoken out against "Tory Islamophobia" and in favour of Palestine and Mr Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn was a big draw in West Bromwich in 2017

In a statement explaining his decision to quit Labour, Councillor Bostan said: "After much contemplation, I no longer feel the Labour Party represents the interests of working people.

"Thousands of local Labour party members have become disenfranchised by the factional infighting, prejudice and entrenched institutionalised racism which is pushed at the highest level of the Labour Party.

"This is while Sandwell Labour wastes millions of pounds of public money, unnecessarily increases car parking charges and introduces punitive costs on the disposal of green waste at a time when the people of Sandwell can least afford it acting completely against the values of equality and fairness labour claims to hold.

"The national Labour Party is devoid of any policies and is far away from the steps of Downing Street while the local Labour administration clutches on to every special responsibility allowance as Sandwell suffers the impact of the leadership's actions.

"In all good consciousness, I cannot be a part of such a betrayal of the very people I came into politics to serve."

In a speech at the Labour conference in 2019, Councillor Bostan described himself as "the first blind councillor in the socialist republic of Sandwell" and called for "the freedom of all people everywhere from Tory tyranny".

He accused the Conservatives of wanting to "silence" Labour on issues including "terrorist" Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Palestine, and added: "Jeremy Corbyn has given his political life’s blood to social justice, equality and freedom in the UK and around the world."

"His arrival at 10 Downing Street cannot come soon enough," he added.

Councillor Luke Giles, Sandwell Labour group chair, said he was "shocked" at Councillor Bostan's attempt to join the Conservatives, "particularly after his vocal support of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party".

The Conservative opposition currently has 10 councillors in Sandwell to Labour's 60.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.