Angela Smith's husband quits Labour after almost a decade as a councillor
The husband of former Labour MP Angela Smith has also quit the party after nearly a decade as a councillor, following a standoff with local activists over his reselection.
Steve Wilson, who has been a Sheffield councillor since 2011 alongside his role as Ms Smith’s parliamentary assistant, decided not to stay on to fight a selection battle after his original nomination was overturned.
He told The Yorkshire Post: “I’ve had it up to here and I can no longer stay. I have come to the same conclusion as my wife.”
After initially being selected to defend his East Ecclesfield seat by the local party, senior figures stepped in to demand that the process was rerun following a complaint.
Mr Wilson made the decision to leave following a second selection meeting yesterday, where Labour members voted to open up the process to other candidates.
He added that the footage of suspended Labour MP Chris Williamson telling a Sheffield Momentum meeting that the party had been “too apologetic” about anti-Semitism allegations had also contributed to his resignation.
“Underlying this as well is that I’m an anti-racist. It’s one of my core beliefs - equality and social justice," he said. "And I’ve seen what is around this place and what’s happening in the Labour party with anti-Semitism and that has been turning my stomach...
“Do I want to be associated with these people? I don’t because they don’t represent my views any more. I just do not think this great party is representing what I joined the party for 20-odd years ago.”
His departure comes amid growing tensions within the local party, which he said began around the 2017 general election.
“We were going to lose and we were going to lose badly,” he said, adding that “two of the big problems were Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn.”
“It got quite vicious and it’s got worse and worse since then. Every time I’ve said anything I get email after email, there’s intimidation, there’s bullying.
“The atmosphere in the constituency has got horrible. It’s members of Momentum within the constituency Labour party.”
However, a local Labour source blamed the selection problems on Mr Wilson and Ms Smith.
They said: “This situation is entirely of Steve Wilson and Angela Smith’s making. They only have themselves to blame.
“Party rules were broken in a bid to engineer his automatic reselection and that’s not on. You do have to ask - how long would he have continued as a Labour councillor if he’d been re-elected?”
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “We don’t comment on internal party processes.”
Sheffield Momentum told The Yorkshire Post: "We are pleased to hear that the running of the meeting to select new candidates to run in East Ecclesfield went smoothly and that the members there opted for an open shortlist.
"We have always supported open shortlists, it's good for the incumbent, good for candidates and good for Party democracy. Since Steve Wilson has resigned, the members are now left with two excellent candidates to choose from."