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Bury St Edmunds town councillor Katie Parker defects from Labour Party to Breakthrough Party

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A Bury St Edmunds town councillor left 'incredibly jaded' by mainstream political parties has defected from Labour to a new democratic socialist party.

Katie Parker, councillor for St Olaves Ward, has made the switch to the Breakthrough Party which formed in January and sees itself as a 'new home for those determined to disrupt the failed status quo' and wants to build a society that 'uses its considerable wealth to provide dignity, security and justice for all'.

Cllr Parker, 46, said: "After being a staunch socialist my whole life and getting involved with local politics during the Jeremy Corbyn era, I have become incredibly jaded and cynical with all the mainstream political parties.

Town councillor Katie Parker.
Town councillor Katie Parker.

"I believe there is no alternative to a right-wing government anymore.

"I lost my passion and no longer felt that I fit in with the Labour Party.

"I looked around at other groups but just concentrated on my council work - keeping the community at the heart of it all.

Katie Parker was formerly of the Labour Party. Picture: Mark Westley.
Katie Parker was formerly of the Labour Party. Picture: Mark Westley.

"This has worked, but I haven’t felt that same pride in who I represent as I did to begin with.

Cllr Parker said she found out about the Breakthrough Party through a family member.

"I began researching it and it felt like the socialist party I needed and believed in," she said.

"I absolutely pride myself on my integrity and being real due to my own past, and I liked what I read.”

Cllr Parker struggled with drug addiction in her teens but has since turned her life around. Picture: Mark Westley.
Cllr Parker struggled with drug addiction in her teens but has since turned her life around. Picture: Mark Westley.

Alex Mays, Breakthrough's leader, said: "As soon as I spoke to Katie I immediately knew that she’d fit right in at Breakthrough.

"She's an incredibly passionate, working class woman who got into politics for all the right reasons, to support her community and to make the lives of the people there better.

"If we had 650 people like Katie in Westminster, the country would be a much better place.”

Cllr Parker grew up on a council estate in Ipswich and struggled with drug addiction in her teens, which led to a life of crime, prison and drug-related health issues.

But she went to rehab in 2004 and began volunteering, training, went to university and stabilised her life, building a career working in local drugs services and rehabilitation centres.

“I’ve learned that a big part of addiction is needing to belong and feeling part of a community is a huge part of this," she said.

"I’ve started baby banks, fed children during school holidays, helped residents during the Covid crisis, helped bring the community together and a lot more in my two and a half years as a councillor.

"My passion for this has never waned. But I want change and to build something different, and I believe that the Breakthrough Party can do this.”

Cllr Parker is Breakthrough’s second councillor, following Samantha Cooper’s defection from the Labour Party in Keighley in August.

The Breakthrough Party is working with other left-wing parties to 'break the two-party stranglehold on power' and 'give voters a real choice'.

The Party plans to stand candidates in parliamentary and local Government elections to 'challenge the political status quo' and 'the Labour Party’s abandonment of many of its core voters'.

Diane Hind, Labour group leader for West Suffolk Council, said: "I’m obviously disappointed that Katie has made this decision because she is an excellent Councillor and a passionate campaigner.

"I continue to believe that the Labour Party represents the most effective opposition for working people to Boris Johnson's Government."

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