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EXCLUSIVE: veteran Labour campaigner Sheila Murphy quits party

Sheila Murphy Photo: ITV News

By ITV News Political Reporter Hannah Miller

The woman who used to be Labour’s top official in the North has left the party - saying membership had become like ‘being in an abusive relationship’.

Sheila Murphy worked with every party leader from Harold Wilson to Jeremy Corbyn.

During her time as ‘super director,’ she organised across three northern regions, running by-election and general election campaigns under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

In 2014, Ed Miliband personally asked her to come out of retirement to run Labour’s ground campaign in the Scottish referendum. Most recently, she ran the campaign for Steve Rotheram to become Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region.

Sheila’s long list of achievements was built up over 49 years of party membership. But that ended on Friday 3rd May 2019. The day after the local elections.

"For all those years the Labour Party has been diverse.

"We’ve been a broad church, we’ve had political disagreements, but very often you’d still go to the pub afterwards.

"Now I find the Labour Party an unforgiving place."

– Sheila Murphy

Sheila says it was during the local election campaign that she decided she had to leave - a decision she describes as ‘heartbreaking’.

She continued to campaign in Wirral under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, but now says the Labour leader is to blame for ‘allowing a certain type of behaviour to happen.’

Last year Sheila issued a warning to the party about the ‘nasty, vicious and controlling’ behaviour of some new members - but says she received no response. Labour lost control of Wirral Council for the first time in seven years - an outcome Sheila says is ‘self-inflicted’.

Speaking to ITV News, the veteran campaigner hit out at Labour’s Brexit policy - a policy she says is ‘unclear’ to voters.

"Europe’s not mentioned, it’s a photograph of Jeremy talking about austerity - if we want to get people engaged again with what these elections are about, surely we should be talking about Europe."

– Sheila Murphy

Sheila will now direct her efforts towards Change UK, the newly-formed Remain party that is fielding candidates for the first time in the local elections. Founding members include the former Labour MPs Luciana Berger and Ann Coffey.

Labour’s bold and popular policies under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership have changed the political conversation in this country and exposed the devastation caused by the Tories’ austerity agenda.

“Labour achieved the biggest increase in the share of the vote since 1945 in the 2017 General Election and we have now become one of the biggest political parties in Europe.

“The Labour Party is absolutely committed to challenging and campaigning against antisemitism in all its forms and wherever it occurs.”

– North West Labour spokesperson