Doncaster councillor and ex-trade union chief quits Labour over 'anti-bike letter' from South Yorkshire leaders
Coun Tosh McDonald, a friend and ally of former leader Jeremy Corbyn, said he had differences with the party’s direction for some time.
But he said the final straw was a letter signed by Labour mayors and council leaders in South Yorkshire who signed a letter calling for a licensing scheme for off-road bikes and quads due to a rise in criminality.
McDonald, an avid motorcycle enthusiast and former president of railway workers union ASLEF, said the letter was ‘blatant discrimination’ against law-abiding riders.
The now independent councillor, who joins his wife Nikki following her resignation from the party, said he will ‘encourage anyone who rides a powered two wheeler not to vote for any Labour candidates’ in the upcoming elections and added that Labour controlled authorities are an ‘unsafe place for motorcycle riders’.
Doncaster’s Labour mayor Ros Jones along with the leaders of Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley, all backed a call for stronger powers against those who carry out criminal acts on quads and off-road bikes.
The mayor said a number of incidents including the increasing use of quads and bikes used by gangs had increased during the pandemic.
But Coun McDonald said there had been no outcry over 4×4 vehicles and cars that damaged Town Fields and said bikers were an ‘easy target’ for a vendetta.
“I have constantly had to pull up Labour members on anti-bike rhetoric and even calling bikers scumbags,” Coun McDonald said.
“It seems Labour controlled authorities are not a safe place for users of powered two wheelers. When language like this is used by people in office it has a spin-off effect on the public.
“Bikers are vulnerable and need respect from the public and the authorities. I notice no action or additional licences are being sought for car drivers after the damage done to Town Fields and the racecourse by cars.
“I will be using all my influence and contacts to encourage motorcycle users not to vote for any Labour candidates in upcoming elections as it is not in the interest of our sport/pastime or preferred method of transport.
“I have been a proud Labour member affiliated for more than 40 years, 20 years under different leaders so I do not take this action lightly. Sometimes things are done out of ignorance but that is not the case in Doncaster as I have always spoken out when derogatory language and anti bike rhetoric has been used.”
Coun McDonald will see out his tenure on DMBC as an independent.