A popular Broadstairs district and town councillor will continue in his role as an independent after being expelled from the Labour Party.
Aram Rawf, who was elected to both councils in 2019, was ejected from the party at national level because he had received support from the Labour Left Alliance.
The alliance was proscribed – meaning Labour members are banned from supporting or having membership of the group – in March this year.
However, Cllr Rawf says the support he had from alliance members had been two years prior to the ban and the Labour Party had made no objection at the time.
Cllr Rawf says he was given the right to appeal but when he did there was no acknowledgement from the national Labour Party and its National Executive Committee (NEC).
It is understood two Labour candidates have been selected to stand in Beacon Ward, which is represented by Cllr Rawf, in the May 2023 local elections. Cllr Rawf says he will stand as an Independent.
In a statement about the expulsion Cllr Rawf said: “I am still a councillor proud to represent the interests of my Beacon Ward constituency and to do my best to assure good governance of Thanet District Council. My seat as councillor does not change because the Labour Party has lost my representation.
“Community has always been at the centre of my heartfelt principles. When I made Thanet my home I wanted to give as much to my community as I could. This was the community that made me feel welcome and came to my aid when I most needed it.
“In 2006 after living and working in the UK for almost six years, the Home Office decided to refuse my asylum claims and detained me. Twelve MPs, across parties, joined a local and national campaign to stop the Home Office sending me back to Iraq where I would have lost my life.
“I have always believed in social justice. I find volunteering in the local community is the best way to contribute towards bringing about that justice and I continue to do so.
“In 2014 I chose to join the Labour Party and I made the Labour Party my political home taking my involvement in the local community to a different level. In 2017 I stood as a candidate for the Cliftonville division in the Kent County Council election as a Labour candidate. I didn’t win but I did put the Leader of UKIP and Thanet District Council in third place and that was covered by local and national newspapers.
“In 2019, after the only Labour councillor on Broadstairs and St Peter’s Town Council and Thanet District Council decided to stand down, I decided to step in despite being told by the Labour Party that I had little hope of winning the seat,
“With the help of many friends and residents we mounted a good campaign. Even at the count the Labour Party believed I wouldn’t be elected but the residents chose me to represent them on both councils.
“In 2021, I stood on the Broadstairs Division as a Labour Candidate despite the Labour Party concentrating on the Ramsgate Division. They told me ‘we will not be campaigning in Broadstairs’ but the residents took the campaign in their hands. I didn’t win but I was the only Labour candidate in Kent to swing 10% of the votes to Labour.
“In August this year the Labour Party decided to terminate my membership because I accepted support from members of a left leaning organisation within the party.
“That support came to me more than two years before those members were proscribed by the Labour Party. At the time of that support the Labour Party had made no objection to those active members.
“I am of course dismayed by the injustice of this although I still enjoy good relations with my Labour colleagues on council. I am now an independent councillor on both councils. On Thanet District Council, I still sit with the Labour group to be able to continue to be a member of committees until the next local election. The residents will decide who will represent them not a political party. I’m still a councillor, I have not lost my seat although the Labour Party has lost me.”
Cllr Rawf arrived in the UK in 1999 as a 17-year-old after fleeing extremists in Iraq. In 2008 Aram was granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK following one of the longest asylum cases to ever run in the country and in 2011 he became a British citizen.
Since then he has been a Labour Party Thanet councillor, a volunteer – including at the covid vaccination site in Westwood – and a campaigner.
At Thanet council the change to independent means the council is now composed of 27 Conservative; 15 Labour; 6 Green and Independents; 5 Thanet Independents and 3 Independents.
The Labour Party has been contacted for comment.