A KEIGHLEY town councillor has defected from the Labour Party to join a new youth democratic socialist group.

Councillor Samantha Cooper, 34, who represents the Woodhouse and Hainworth ward has joined the democratic socialist party, ‘Breakthrough’, as its first councillor.

The party says it aims to “fill the political space created by Labour’s lurch to the right under Keir Starmer’s leadership”.

Cllr Cooper said: “Under the new leadership, the Labour Party has turned its back on the people I was elected to represent, and I can no longer look them in the eye while remaining in the party.

“There are some truly good people in Labour and those people will always have my respect.

“But as a primary school teacher and mother of two young children, I can’t watch the party walk back on its support for the trade unions, on its proud and unwavering support for the most vulnerable groups in our society, at the same time, keeping MPs who ally themselves with those who make the world more dangerous for people I love.

“I used to feel confident that Labour left no one behind. Labour supporters in Keighley are brilliant but since the change of leadership, the party has turned its back on them.”

Breakthrough was founded earlier this year and its policies include making £15 the real living wage, scrapping zero-hour contracts, and renationalising the NHS.

Breakthrough leader Alex Mays said: “Samantha embodies everything Breakthrough stands for - she’s unashamedly socialist, incredibly passionate about her local community, and wants to fight for a better and fairer society.

“Her support for campaigns around free school meals and Black Lives Matter, as well as her tireless community work for the people of Keighley, is a testament to that.

 “As our first-ever councillor, she will have a big responsibility in setting out what Breakthrough can do at a local level and I’m looking forward to seeing that in action. This a proud moment for our party and hopefully Samantha will be the first of many Breakthrough councillors.”

The Breakthrough website says that the party “understands that it needs to go beyond traditional left voters”.

It says it wants to “engage people who’ve never been involved in politics, who are politically homeless and are apathetic about the current state of play”.