A storm emerged within the Bolton Labour party this week after the Council leader Cliff Morris supported the appeal of Cllr Ismail Ibrahim to be reselected as a Labour candidate after he initially failed an interview for reselection.
Bolton RISE can reveal that the sudden u-turn in supporting Cllr Ismail Ibrahim is likely to have arisen due to fear of losing a Labour seat in the upcoming 2018 local Election.
A source close to the elected Labour party's inner circle has revealed that the party fears losing seats in the Rumworth ward after it learned that the founder of Bolton RISE and local activist Damien Walsh will be standing as an independent candidate for the Rumworth ward in the 2018 local Election.
Cllr Ismail Ibrahim one of the incumbent councillors in the Rumworth ward was reported to have been dismissed by council leader Cliff Morris from his position as chair of the scrutiny committee in 2016 following what was dubbed as a "Council tax scandal" in which Cllr Ismail Ibrahim failed to own up to being one of several councillors who had not paid council tax in Bolton. Cllr Ibrahim claimed he later settled the outstanding council tax bill.
The Labour party seemed to lose faith and support for Cllr Ibrahim after this incident and recently turned him down for reselection as a Labour party candidate However, after learning that Local Rumworth resident and activist Damien Walsh who has often been critical of some of the Labour policies and actions and has also campaigned on many issues across Bolton will be standing for election in 2018 the Labour party backed by Cliff Morris showed a sudden surge in their efforts to support him in fear of losing a seat in the ward.
Damien Walsh - set to stand as Rumworth ward candidate
Damien Walsh said "It comes as no surprise that Cliff Morris and the Labour party would change its direction on supporting Cllr Ismail. Cllr Ismail is hugely popular and well respected in the Rumworth ward. When you think your party may be in for losing a seat in an election you select a man that is very popular and likely to have the best chance of winning even if that means you have to backtrack on your support for him, it's really quite simple."
Damien who will step down from his position at Bolton RISE in the new year ahead of the election campaign added "The people of Bolton are fed up with the stale politics of the incumbent Labour party. The leadership has become more of a dictatorship enthralled in scandal after scandal, no longer representing the electorate but servicing their own needs and interests. It's a real shame and a let down to the Labour party as a whole as I know of Labour party members who are working tirelessly to make progressive change in Bolton.
Damien who is known for his no-nonsense approach to problems, local and national activism and supporting the most vulnerable people in society through his charitable actions is also from a manufacturing background and is passionate about manufacturing in the UK. He believes that encouraging manufacturing businesses to set up in the Bolton area will maximise jobs and the success of Borough. In fact, he believes that stimulating manufacturing in the UK could be a winning formula for Britain post-Brexit. If he wins the election he wants to work with other councillors to progress this vision for the town.
"Creating Jobs, stimulating the local economy, improving housing condition, dealing with refuge and litter problems, anti-social behaviour and creating community spaces and facilities for our children are among the priorities I will be looking at and trying to influence the council to act upon. These are not all my direct concerns but they are the concerns of the Rumworth ward electorate, the people I hope to represent. I have been discussing and listening to peoples issues and I will continue to do this during the election campaign next year, after all, that is the whole idea of politics to listen and represent your people. This is something that has been lacking by some of the incumbent councillors." he said.
Damien added "I also want to consult the people of the Rumworth ward prior to any major decisions that are undertaken by the council and give them a say before I act on any motions in councils program. This will be done using face to face and online forums. I want to shake up local politics and get the job done."
The Rumworth ward may be a very difficult ward to win. The ward has a high Asian population who traditionally vote for the Labour party something that didn't seem to shake Damien.
He said "The current Labour council led by leader Cliff Morris has always banked on gaining votes from the Asian community in the Rumworth ward. It has exploited the Asian people using them as pawns to gain votes but I hope they will wake up to the fact that they have been unfairly treated and they are not really being represented but exploited. Voting for an independent candidate is a chance to refresh the political engagement of the Asian community in Rumworth and I am really looking forward to engaging with the whole community and listening to them. I have a real excitement and a passion to bring the community together and end the status quo of Bolton's politics"
Damien is urging other independent candidates to stand in their own wards. "Now is the time to rise up and put an end to the dictatorship. People are sick of the lazy, vote-hungry career politicians and want ordinary people from our communities like me to represent them. Times are changing in the world of politics"
Today has seen even more uncertainty for the leader of the Labour party Cllr Cliff Morris as it was announced that Bolton West Constituency Labour Party (CLP) had passed a vote of no confidence in the leader. The vote was welcomed by many members of public in Bolton and sparked an Social media frenzy as people expressed support for the decision. The CLP voted 50 to 19 in favour of the motion.
The Local elections are expected to be held in May 2018 where we will be reporting on every move Damien Walsh makes in the election campaign.
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