Today I’ve announced that I am leaving the Labour Party and will continue to sit in Parliament representing Nottingham East in a new independent group of MPs.
I wanted to send this MP Update newsletter today so that you could read my reasons directly.
I’ve been in the Labour Party for over 30 years. But the Labour Party I joined – the Party I have campaigned for and believed in – is no longer today’s Labour Party.
I tried my hardest to save it. I argued as strenuously as I could for my centre-left values within the Party for the past few years. But sadly it has now been hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left.
My values haven’t changed – I oppose this Conservative Government and desperately want a sensible alternative to pursue the fight against poverty and discrimination by extending opportunities for all.
But British politics is now broken and in all good conscience I can’t knock on doors and advocate supporting a Government led by Jeremy Corbyn or the team around him.
For me, the last straw has been Labour’s betrayal on Europe. The Labour frontbench have offered to enable Brexit. They have constantly held back from allowing you to have the final say on any deal.
Even the hopes many had put in last September’s Labour conference policy has been brushed aside: no ‘guaranteed full participation in the Single Market’; no ‘exact same benefits’; no movement towards a People’s Vote.
Choosing to stand back and observe from the sidelines, while your livelihood and future opportunities are hurt by Brexit, is a fundamental violation of Labour’s traditional values.
But my differences with the Labour Party leadership go far deeper than Brexit. The past three years have confirmed how irresponsible it would be to allow this Leader of the Opposition to take the office of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Very many people still in the Labour Party will privately admit this to be true – and I owe it to you now to say this publicly and honestly.
The Labour Party’s policy choices are now the wrong choices. The pursuit of an approach that would threaten our national security, including their hostility to NATO.
The refusal to act when needed to help those facing humanitarian distress.
Preferring to believe states hostile to our country, rather than believing our police and security services.
These choices all root back to the Labour leadership’s obsession with a narrow, outdated Marxist ideology.
They are hostile to businesses, large and small. They make impossible and dishonest promises which everyone knows, in their hearts, couldn’t be kept without putting our economy at risk.
They constantly pit one part of society against another – because to them the world divides between ‘oppressor’ and ‘oppressed’, class enemies, when in truth the modern world is more complicated than this.
And then there is the appalling culture now riddled throughout the Labour Party nationally and locally. Intolerance. Closing down of debate. Abuse and hatred online and offline in Party meetings. Antisemitism.
So, together with other parliamentary colleagues, we have had to say collectively: enough is enough.
That is why we have come together to sit as a new Independent Group of MPs – and if you want to know more about the values we share and how we intend to go forward, please visit our website at www.theindependent.group
I believe our primary duty as Members of Parliament is to put the best interests of our constituents and our country first. Yet like so many others, those of us today forming the Independent Group believe that none of today’s political parties are fit to provide the leadership and direction needed by our country.
Our aim will be to pursue policies that are evidence-based, not led by ideology, taking a long-term perspective to the challenges of the 21st century in the national interest, rather than locked in the old politics of the 20th century in the party’s interests.
As an Independent Group we aim to recognise the value of healthy debate, show tolerance towards different opinions and seek to reach across outdated divides and build consensus to tackle Britain’s problems.
I believe –
- Ours is a great country of which people are rightly proud, where the first duty of government must be to defend its people and do whatever it takes to safeguard Britain’s national security
- Britain works best as a diverse, mixed social market economy, in which well-regulated private enterprise can reward aspiration and drive economic progress and where government has the responsibility to ensure the sound stewardship of taxpayer’s money and a stable, fair and balanced economy
- A strong economy means we can invest in our public services. We believe the collective provision of public services and the NHS can be delivered through government action, improving health and educational life chances, protecting the public, safeguarding the vulnerable, ensuring dignity at every stage of life and placing individuals at the heart of decision-making
- The people of this country have the ability to create fairer, more prosperous communities for present and future generations. We believe that this creativity is best realised in a society which fosters individual freedom and supports all families.
- The barriers of poverty, prejudice and discrimination facing individuals should be removed and advancement occur on the basis of merit, with inequalities reduced through the extension of opportunity, givingindividuals the skills and means to open new doors and fulfil their ambitions.
- Individuals are capable of taking responsibility if opportunities are offered to them, everybody can and should make a contribution to society and that contribution should be recognised. Paid work should be secure and pay should be fair.
- Our free media, the rule of law, and our open, tolerant and respectful democratic society should be cherished and renewed.
- Our parliamentary democracy in which our elected representatives deliberate, decide and provide leadership, held accountable by their whole electorate is the best system of representing the views of the British people.
- In order to face the challenges and opportunities presented by globalisation, migration and technological advances, we believe the multilateral, international rules-based order must be strengthened and reformed. We believe in maintaining strong alliances with our closest European and international allies on trade, regulation, defence, security and counter-terrorism
- As part of the global community we have a responsibility to future generations to protect our environment, safeguard the planet, plan development sustainably and to act on the urgency of climate change.
- Power should be devolved to the most appropriate level, trusting and involving local communities. More powers and representation should be given to local government to act in the best interests of their communities.
My commitment to pursue these values in Parliament representing the people of Nottingham East continues as strongly as ever. Our city faces massive challenges in the years ahead and so I shall do my best to press for the investment and reforms we need. Whether it is the refurbishment of QMC Emergency Department, action to make Nottingham Prison safer, safeguards for those being transferred onto Universal Credit, a strategy to eradicate homelessness in the city centre, improvements in education standards in Nottingham, all require a voice to influence decision-makers locally and nationally. I will continue to remain in dialogue with you through these MP Update newsletters each week when Parliament is in session and if you need to contact me for help or assistance please get in touch at this email or telephone 0115 956 9429 or write to me at 12 Regent Street NG1 5BQ.
Independent Group MP for Nottingham East