Today I have written to Labour Party members with my position on the Labour leadership.
The Labour party has become divided in a way that is putting its very existence at risk, and we could not be any further from where I hoped we would be, just 14 months after I was elected.
At the last meeting of the constituency Labour party, I had a very candid and honest discussion with members about the situation. I explained that whilst I did not necessarily agree with the timing of the motion of no confidence in Jeremy, or the way in which the issue had been brought to a head, talk of a snap general election meant that we needed to do some real soul searching as a party, and ask ourselves some tough questions about just how ready we would be to go into an election.
I want to stress that as a frontbench member of the Opposition whips office, I have served Jeremy Corbyn and the party since my appointment in September last year, to the very best of my ability. I have stayed in post throughout the leadership challenge and as many of you will know I have been working with Jo Cox’s staff, having become the supervising MP for Batley and Spen. I have not spoken against Jeremy Corbyn at any stage of this process.
However we are now facing unsustainable divisions within our party and I am afraid that Jeremy simply does not have the answers we need to move us beyond the place we are now.
These divisions are not simply in the Parliamentary Labour party, but at every level of our movement. I fully accept that Jeremy has engaged many people, from those who have never taken an interest in politics before, to long standing members, and that will need to be reflected in where we go from here. However too many voters, members, councillors, MPs and MEPs have said that this is simply not working, and that Jeremy cannot provide the direction we now so desperately need.
I can assure you that many colleagues who have resigned their posts, from all wings of the party, did so with the greatest reluctance, after accepting that his leadership was failing to deliver. I would urge all members to read the accounts given by Thangam Debbonaire and Lilian Greenwood which explain in detail how, quite apart from his politics, Jeremy is ineffective at making the decisions and providing leadership that we so desperately need, both in Parliament and across the country.
So we now find ourselves in a leadership contest which must be conducted in the most comradely of ways. I am sorry to say that ‘Labour values’ have not always been reflected in some of the discussion I have seen, particularly on social media. Many of my colleagues have been subject to a level of abuse and intimidation which is categorically unacceptable. That is not the party I joined and I hope you will join me in saying that such behaviour has no place in our movement.
The people of Halifax elected me as their Labour MP and it is an honour and a privilege that I take very seriously. We should never lose sight of why the Labour Party exists. To suggest that we should not concern ourselves with being in Government is to fail to understand the urgency with which we must replace this Conservative Government for all those who are relying on us. This is my absolute focus.
Having worked with Owen Smith closely as the whip for his work and pensions team, I believe that he can offer the vision and the leadership that we now so desperately need. He understands what is needed to unite the party, and take all of us forward.
I hope to speak to as many members and voters as possible in person over the summer, to answer any questions you might have about the past few weeks and to hear your thoughts about the future of the party.
I hope that we can move on from here, with a renewed commitment to taking on the Tories and putting a stop to the damage that they are doing to all of our communities. Having reflected on the last few weeks, I believe a new leader and a fresh start is the only way to do it.
Today I have written to Labour Party members with my position on the Labour leadership. The Labour party has become divided in a way that is putting its very existence...