Much has been made in today’s news about the resignations of seven of my former-colleagues. They have outlined their reasons for leaving the Labour Party, as they are entitled to do, and I was sorry to hear that they no longer feel welcome in the Labour Party for a variety of reasons.
I joined the Labour Party in the 1980s because of my involvement in the Trade Union Movement and I remain proud of the values that led me to get involved. Those values of equality and fair treatment for all; the hope of a bright future for the working class; and a fundamental belief that all people are entitled to the same opportunities regardless of their wealth, birth or any divisible demographic. The only way to achieve this is by working together for the common good and not by fighting each other.
No leader of any political party in history has been perfect and Jeremy Corbyn is no different. However, he was elected in two landslide votes by the membership of the largest political party in Europe. That membership is still a broad church in Hartlepool. Every day my post-bag is full of a variety of views, every branch and general committee meeting I attend is a fair and equal debate, and every member I speak to has a different point of view on current affairs. We will never all agree but the true strength is in arguing your case, not running from debate.
It goes without saying that more needs to be done to tackle antisemitic behaviour and the Labour Party should have acted more quickly to deal with the issue. However, it is not a crisis, nor is it institutionalised within the Labour Party. It is sick, wrong and cruel behaviour coming from a very small minority of members.
This split will achieve nothing but to help the Tories stay in power. These seven MPs have consigned themselves to be a footnote in history. We will remain united and firm in the belief that the best hope to end poverty and fight for social justice is a Labour Government. It is what Hartlepool needs and it is what the country needs.
Member of Parliament for Hartlepool