Giovanna Lewis

“I couldn’t stomach being in the Labour Party anymore,” Dorset councillor Giovanna Lewis told Socialist Worker. 

For Giovanna a combination of Labour’s stance over Palestine, climate activism and refugees, and lack of democracy, led her to resign from the party. 

“I was holding on for a long time,” she explained. “I wanted to stay and try and push for Carralyn Parkes, who is on the left and the current mayor of Portland, to be Labour’s parliamentary candidate for South Dorset.” 

“I felt that Carralyn has worked really hard, has a high profile in the area, and would vote for a ceasefire in Gaza. In my mind, she was the best candidate for the job.” 

But the Labour right pushed through candidate Lloyd Hatton instead.  

“A couple of months ago, this well-polished, professional-looking Labour candidate, who grew up in Weymouth, arrived in Dorset,” she said.

“Not long after, we got an email from the party stating that Hatton was the parliamentary candidate for South Dorset, and there would be no shortlisting.” 

Giovanna said this wasn’t the first time party democracy had been bypassed to push out the left. “A few months ago, we had an annual general meeting to elect branch officers,” she said. “The right was trying to break the rules we have in place to elect people from the floor. 

“I was chairing, and it was a hellish meeting to hold together, but we stuck to the rules. A few days later, the right sent in complaints. The Labour Party region decided that the AGM was void and ran it online.” 

“This was just one example of how the Labour right tries to bypass democracy and get its people in. For me, Labour is now full of those who lie, manipulate and bypass democracy to get what they want. It’s despicable.” 

Last year Giovanna spent three weeks in prison for blocking roads in 2021 with climate group Insulate Britain. She said that, for months, no one in the Labour Party mentioned her sentence. But this changed with local elections fast approaching. 

“I received a letter from the national party saying that someone has made a complaint about me being part of Insulate Britain and Just Stop Oil,” she said. “They were asking me to defend what I did. 

“Then I got an email from region saying they wouldn’t support me as a candidate because of my custodial sentence. After reading that, I thought, ‘What am I doing?’ I resigned then and there.” 

Labour’s shameful stance on Palestine was a big reason why Giovanna left.  Last Saturday, she joined other activists outside Hatton’s campaign launch to demand that he take action over Gaza if he becomes the next MP. 

“The Labour Party has to be pushed to a place of humanity and decency, so we will not give up,” Giovanna said at the lobby. “We will hound these Labour MPs, and we will let them know they will not have our vote unless they demand a ceasefire and that settlements in the West Bank stop.” 

Giovanna said she went back and forth about running as an independent councillor, but decided against it. “I feel free now,” she said. “I can campaign for Palestine and to stop refugees from being housed on the Bibby Stockholm barge.

“I want to give more, and I think that’s only possible if I’m not in the Labour Party.” 

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