Merton Labour councillor who posted ‘ceasefire now’ comments over Gaza is expelled from party

A Merton councillor has been removed from the local Labour group and will now stand as an independent councillor until the local council elections in May. Ravensbury ward councillor, Caroline Charles, has been expelled from the group and while it is not clear why, Cllr Charles believes it to be because of her vocal support for a ceasefire in the Israel/Gaza conflict.

Charles, who has served as one of the three councillors of the Ravensbury ward since May 2022, was informed by Merton Council of her removal last night (January 25). In recent weeks she has posted frequently on X in support of a ceasefire and against Labour’s official stance on the conflict at a local and national level.

Posting on X last night, Charles said: “Just been told by @Merton_Council that I’ve been kicked out of the Labour Group. No-one had the decency to inform me. It’s because I said ‘Ceasefire Now’. Don’t be shy. Admit it.”

Read more: Merton Council calms bankruptcy fears but confirms 5% council tax increase next year

Caroline Charles alongside Peter McCabe and Stephen Alambritis MBE
Caroline Charles was elected as a councillor for Ravensbury ward in May 2022, alongside Peter McCabe and Stephen Alambritis MBE
(Image: MertonTV)

Following this announcement, Cllr Charles commented on fellow ex-Labour councillor for Dewsbury West, Ammar Anwar’s, decision to become an independent. She said: “I’m joining you Ammar. I just can’t go along with this bullying and intolerance any longer. I’m out too.”

Cllr Charles has since disassociated from the local party, with whom she has campaigned for a number of years. So far, Merton Labour has yet to comment on her removal and it is unclear if she has officially left the national party.

Caroline Charles
Caroline Charles has been vocal in her opposition to Labour’s official stance on the Israel/Gaza conflict
(Image: Merton Council)

The ward’s two other Labour councillors, Peter McCabe and Stephen Alambritis MBE, are also yet to comment on her removal. Her announcement has drawn wide-ranging support from residents and individuals across the political spectrum.

Pippa Maslin, the Green Party’s London Assembly candidate for the Merton and Wandsworth constituency, and parliamentary candidate for the Mitcham and Morden constituency, gave words of encouragement from across the aisle.

She said: “You have always struck me as someone who works very hard, genuinely cares, and is prepared to work with other parties for the common good, @CllrCarolineRav. I have long had the feeling that @MertonLabour have sidelined you instead of applauding and supporting you, I am afraid.”

Fellow Green Party member, Andrea K Heywood, said: “Solidarity to you Caroline for speaking out and saying what is right.”

Merton Civic Centre
Cllr Charles will now sit as an independent until the local elections in May
(Image: DiamondGeezer)

Other commenters noted that those in Ravensbury ward have yet to be officially informed of their councillor’s removal. Her removal follows the resignation and removal of a handful of other councillors across the country following the Labour Party’s stance on the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Sheldon Vestey, one of Sutton‘s two Labour councillors was also one to comment on the announcement. The Hackbridge ward councillor noted: “In Sutton our group supports a call for a ceasefire now.”

Fellow Sutton Labour councillor, Dave Tchill, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “I don’t know Caroline well but all reports suggest that she was a hardworking councillor for the area. I want Labour to be strong and cohesive and believe we should be broad and inclusive.”

In an official joint statement published by the Sutton and Cheam, Wallington and Carshalton Labour group, they said: “We therefore call for the immediate and safe release of all hostages held by Hamas and for all involved in the conflict to respect international law.

“In the view of the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Gaza, we join the growing international calls for a ceasefire on all sides leading to renewed talks aimed at securing long-term peace in the Middle East.”

Merton Labour have not yet made a similar call for a ceasefire. Merton Labour group was approached for comment but failed to provide one in time for publication.

Don’t miss out on the biggest South London news. Sign up to our MySouthLondon newsletter HERE for all the latest daily news and more.

My London – Sutton