Ian Austin, the MP for Dudley North has resigned claiming that Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party has created a culture of extremism and intolerance. The MP, a critic of the Labour leader had his majority slashed to just 22 at the last election.
Ian Austin will not join the newly formed Independent Group that has collected 11 defector’s, 8 from Labour and the remainder from the Conservative’s. According to a Sky News opinion poll, 10% of people said they would vote for the party should they stand in their constituency, putting them ahead of the Lib Dem’s, with Labour on 26% and the Tories on 32%.
The MP’s have announced that they will not call by-elections in their constituences, something that has infuriated local constituents, and something that until recently was unheard of.
The resignations have come at a time when Brexit talks continue to stutter, as Theresa May is expected to announce that she has failed to secure any concessions, despite reitterating that she needs legally binding changes to the backstop legal text. Brussels has once again rejected any such changes and with no such compromises forthcoming and the Houses of Common’s rejecting her deal, we look all set to crash out without a deal.
A no-deal Brexit would likely mean that a General Election is called.
The resignation comes after an announcement from the Labour party in that it will consult on extending the right of constituents to petition to recall their MPs if they change parties.
Labour says this will be part of a radical program to reform British democracy that will culminate in a Constitutional Convention to radically democratise politics and power in our country.
Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:
“Power comes from the people but for too long the overwhelming majority have been shut out. That’s why trust in politics and in elites is rightly falling. “Communities should not have to wait for up to five years to act if they feel their MP is not properly representing their interests, especially with the restrictions of the Fixed Term Parliament Act. “This proposed reform has the dramatic potential to empower citizens and will be one of many measures the Labour Party is planning to consult on and announce that will change the way politics in this country is done”.
Analysis by Deputy Editor Seb Chromiak
Though Austin has confirmed he will not join the independent group, a vote with this shambolic Tory government makes an MP complicit in the cruel policy that the Tories are hellbent on pursuing.
It is quite clear that the Independent group are trying to pull politics back into the centre ground, with members strictly following an ideology of the status-quo. I believe that we will see Umunna et al, fight against the renationalisation of industry and reducing the power of finance in the City of London over Westminster politics. This neglects all political trends, the polarisation of our politics and the emergence of Jeremy Corbyn’s politics is a product of the very thing they stand for, the status quo. That will not, however, stop the backers from flooding the party with cash, they represent a moderate conservatism that big-business longs for.
That is not to say that Labour and particularly, Jeremy Corbyn should avoid criticism. Quite the opposite there must now be a sharp evaluation of how the party goes forward, reiterating the commitment to stamp out anti-semitism that regularly makes the headlines, though this must be followed by action. There needs to be a recognition by the leadership that descent in a political party is a fundamental element of democracy, Labour is at risk of losing many well respected and good politicians, Tom Watson for example. Most are in agreement that the economic reforms proposed are essential, but in other areas, the leadership could do better. MP’s have long cried wolf about defecting, so far it is unlikely that they will be a loss to the party, nevertheless, this is hardly a false-alarm.
Sebastian Chromiak is Deputy Editor in Chief at TPN
Twitter Handle: @sebchromiak