Sunderland Green councillor resigns after clashing with national party over trans and women's issues
A Green Party councillor has announced plans to resign citing concerns over the national leadership.
He has now announced plans to step down after more than five years as a Green Party member and nearly two years as a city councillor.
In a widely shared statement posted on Facebook, the councillor said he had become “increasingly uneasy” about the party’s “stance on women’s rights.”
He also suggested some in the party were stifling debates around transgender issues with the “leadership’s approval”, and senior party members were being “harassed, and even suspended” for taking opposing viewpoints.
“During the last couple of months I have become increasingly uneasy about my party’s stance on women’s rights,” he said.
“I have had discussions on social media with party members and activists, where, because I have politely disagreed, I have been called a transphobe, a homophobe, and worse.”
Mr Armstrong pointed to decisions taken at the Green Party’s recent Spring Conference as another reason for his resignation – including a motion to discuss online transgender clinic, GenderGP, being “deliberately blocked.”
In the resignation statement, said the “party’s elite are not willing (or able) to stand up to the bullying [of Green Party members], and in this they are complicit”.
“I cannot stay in a party that puts ideology before women and children’s safety,” he said.
“I can’t continue to serve as a councillor without the motivation to do so 100%, and in good conscience, take the money that the council pay me, when I know I’ll no longer do the role justice.
“I’d like to thank the wonderful people I’ve met along the way, in particular the local Greens in Sunderland, Washington and the rest of the North East, who I still fully believe in.
“I’d like to also thank [Washington South] councillors [Graeme] Miller and [Louise] Farthing for helping me be a part of a team that put party politics aside, and served our local constituents together, as best we could.”
He added “My fellow councillors in Sunderland who gave me a different perspective on politics, and who represented their parties and constituents with gusto, you have my respect.
“I’d like [to] thank the people of Washington South who gave me a chance, and I hope you understand my principles in this matter.”
He went on: “I’d like to thank the Green Party members who will persevere in the party, who won’t be bullied or threatened, and will continue to fight against climate change, and extremism.
“I think eventually people will see what is going on, and you’ll have your party back.”
A statement from the Sunderland Green Party was released following Mr Armstrong’s resignation announcement.
It reads: “Sunderland Green Party are very sad to lose Dom Armstrong as a member and as a councillor.
“He is a man of very high principles, a good friend and has been an honest and hard working councillor.
“The majority of Green Party members in England and Wales are, like Dom, focused on working for their local communities on green and social justice issues.
“In Sunderland and Washington we will continue to focus on the things that matter to residents: preserving green space, supporting community initiatives, reforming local democracy and working for a sustainable future for the city.”
The Green Party also issued a statement in response to the resignation.
A party spokesperson said: “The Green Party is working hard to ensure a greener and fairer future for all and we are saddened that Dom Armstrong has stepped away from this.
“It is a huge shame that residents in Washington South will not benefit from Dom’s continued work on opposing polluting developments and driving carbon reductions where he achieved so much since his election two years ago.
“The local party will continue to work hard to ensure others equally committed to tackling climate change and creating a more equal society for all are elected to Sunderland Council in May.”
“We recognise that the issue of gender rights is something a number of our members feel very strongly about, and we continue to work to ensure all members are treated with respect inside the party and on wider platforms.
“We wish Dom all the best for his future.”