Hilary Schan: Momentum chair quits Labour to campaign against its MPs at next election

One of the chairs of the left-wing Labour campaign group Momentum has quit her post and the party over Sir Keir Starmer's policy agenda, and his "disgusting response" to the war in Gaza.

Hilary Schan, who is also a councillor in Worthing, said she will now join the We Deserve Better campaign, headed by journalist Owen Jones, which aims to oust prominent Labour MPs at the next election and put independent and Green Party candidates in their place.

The announcement comes off the back of a widely successful local election campaign for Labour, but one where it suffered losses in its traditional council seats, especially in areas with large Muslim populations, over its stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict.

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Pointing to analysis that shows Labour is set to be the biggest party at the next election, but not have an overall majority, Ms Schan said getting more "socialist representatives" into parliament would be "vital to pressure Starmer to finally listen to progressive voters he has taken for granted".

She urged others to join the campaign to provide an "alternative to the race to the bottom between Labour and the Tories", saying the candidates it backed would "stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and hold the incoming Labour government's feet to the fire".

In a statement, Ms Schan said: "I've spent eight years campaigning for Labour locally and nationally, holding many elected roles within the party and as a Labour councillor... but I can no longer in good conscience stay in a party which, under Starmer's leadership, is being taken further and further away from its founding values and is now simply a Tory-lite party at best.

"Starmer has junked every one of his policy pledges to fix this broken Britain and I cannot look my constituents in the eye and tell them to vote for a Labour government which will only let them down.

"As I have wrestled with these issues, Labour's disgusting response to the horrors in Gaza has provided clarity. I cannot remain a member of a party whose leader endorsed a war crime by Israel and even now won't call for a suspension of UK arms sales to Israel and condemn its government's atrocities."

Momentum was a powerful campaign force during the years of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, but has become an increasingly outside voice and vocal critic of the party as Sir Keir changes its direction from his more left wing predecessor.

Sir Keir also came in for criticism shortly after the war began in Gaza when he appeared to give Israel backing over cutting off water and power supplies to the strip, leading a number of local councillors to resign from the party.

But the party leader later sought to clarify his remarks, saying while Israel had the "right to self-defence" they did not have "the right to withhold that humanitarian aid that needs to get in".

Labour also faced a split when the SNP called a vote demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, with eight of its ministers resigning their posts and 56 MPs rebelling against party orders not to back the motion.

Since then, Labour has changed its position to support demands for an immediate ceasefire - but the move was overshadowed by chaotic scenes in parliament that left the SNP unable to vote on its own motion.

A Momentum spokesperson said: "It is a sad state of affairs for Keir Starmer's Labour Party when committed activists like Hilary, who work so hard to deliver progressive change for their communities, no longer feel it is the place for them.

"Momentum remains focused on organising for a democratic Labour party which views its members and core voters as an asset, not an inconvenience.

"We will keep campaigning for real Labour policies which deliver the country the transformative change it is crying out for, instead of constant U-turns and corporate-friendly policies."

Sky News has contacted the Labour Party for comment.