A FORMER leader of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council has left the Labour party after 46 years as a member because of his “disdain” for UK leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Cllr Hedley McCarthy has said that he will not be standing in the forthcoming council elections in May and thanked all those that have supported him over the years.

Cllr McCarthy said: “It’s been a tremendous privilege to represent Llanhilleth.

“The electors of Ardbeg, Brynithel, Swffryd and Llanhilleth have given me the opportunity to go on to become council leader.

“I am pleased to say that two excellent women candidates Helen Cunningham and Cheryl Hucker have been selected to replace me.

“After 46 years I did not renew my membership.

“I fundamentally disagree with Starmer who is a square peg in a round hole.

“An establishment figure, a knight, a member of the undemocratic trilateral commission, his treatment of Jeremy Corbyn and his rejection of democratic socialism is too much for me to bear.

“Politics is broken, lies are preferred to truth, war in Ukraine, Brexit a huge mistake, (Boris) Johnson is a joke and Starmer is not a part of the solution, he is part of the problem.

“The Parliamentary Labour Party is not a vehicle for progressive change, but an obstacle to it.”

Cllr McCarthy added: “Twice leader of Blaenau Gwent, I am proud of the many achievements Labour has made.

“Obviously, big regeneration projects like the Ebbw Valley Railway, the Works site, new schools at Llanhilleth, Abertillery, Six Bells and Ebbw Vale.

“I am also proud of the fact that as leader I established the Holocaust Memorial Event and to have shared platforms with Holocaust survivor Eva Clarke and with Rabbi Barrie Marcus.

“I visited Auschwitz as a guest of the Holocaust Educational Trust.

“I have always stood up against racism of all kinds and defended oppressed minorities, so I am equally proud of setting up Blaenau Gwent’s Resettlement Programme, on which I still sit and where we are currently focused on the humanitarian crisis facing Ukraine.

“My disdain is for Starmer I have no argument with Welsh Labour, Blaenau Gwent Labour or Labour group.”

He added he would be “supporting and working” for a Labour victory in Blaenau Gwent to remove the  independent administration.