Prince Philip death joke tweets sparks probe as councillor leaves party
Matthew Smith, local democracy reporter
- Credit: Twitter/Stevenage Borough Council
A Stevenage councillor who asked if there would be a “space free at the Windsor’s beer garden” on the day Prince Philip died has quit the Labour Party after an investigation was launched into her tweets.
Cllr Lizzy Kelly, who represents the Bedwell ward, was elected to Stevenage Borough Council in 2018 as a Labour representative, but said she no longer felt welcome in the party.
Cllr Kelly added she would serve her constituents as an independent until her term ends in May 2022, after tweeting a screenshot of a notice of investigation on December 1.
The notice of investigation included two screenshots of her personal Twitter account. One, sent around 20 minutes after the Duke of Edinburgh’s death was announced in April, read: “Does this mean there’s a space free at the Windsor’s beer garden booking on Monday evening?”
The second tweet under investigation was a retweet which read: “Thinking of the queen today, it’s never easy when your cousin dies.”
In response to the investigation, Cllr Kelly said she had cancelled her membership to the Labour Party, and criticised the party for investigating “random joke tweets” about the monarchy amidst alleged “inaction” on transphobia and Islamophobia.
She wrote online: “Those are indeed my tweets. I was unaware being royalty was a protected characteristic so didn’t realise I was in breach of any rules.
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“In any case, this notice of investigation is the last in a series of things which have made it clear that I, as a socialist, am no longer welcome in the Party.
“The Party’s inaction on abuse of trans and Muslim members by MPs on social media, while apparently having enough capacity to investigate members based on random joke tweets and the class system it entrenches, also makes it a community I no longer wish to be a part of.”
In a follow-up tweet, she added: “It’s not my fault the Queen f***ed her cousin!”
Despite the tweets, her constituency party said they had not been contacted by Cllr Kelly to confirm her resignation, and have said the councillor should let voters decide whether she should remain in the council.
In a statement on behalf of Jim Callaghan, chair, and Cllr Sharon Taylor (Symonds Green), leader of Stevenage Borough Council, Stevenage Labour said: “We understand that Cllr Kelly has decided to leave the Labour Party, although she has not yet had the courtesy to formally advise us of that decision.
"We are led to believe that she considers the current direction of travel of the Labour Party as incompatible with her personal political views.
"We would strongly suggest that as she was elected for Bedwell under the banner of the Labour Party she should, in all conscience, now resign her seat and allow the people of Bedwell to elect her replacement."
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate action is taken.”
Cllr Kelly has since made her Twitter account private, and did not respond to a request for comment.