Alan Whitehead MP

Member of Parliament for Southampton Test

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This week I attended the inaugural meeting of the All party Parliamentary Group on air pollution chaired by Matthew Pennycook.

Matthew described the state of air quality in the U.K. as a public health crisis and he was not alone in worrying that the response to air pollution is nowhere near commensurable to the harm it is causing.

The launch of the APPG on Air Pollution comes in the same week as a new study warns of toxic particles from air pollution as abundant in the human brain. These particles have previously been linked to Alzheimer's and whilst there is not yet a conclusive link air pollution has long been linked with other health issues such as heart disease and strokes.

I am calling on air quality in the U.K and in Southampton in particular to be tackled with a new sense of urgency. Southampton has been named as one of 40 places in the U.K that has breached the World Health Organisation’s safety level for air pollution and we have the dual problem of being both an urban area with nearby ports, docks and cruise liners.  

Two of the solutions I have raised so far have been ship to shore power or cold ironing where cruiseliners would plug into mains electricity when they visit the port which would reduce their contribution to air pollution. Another is the possibility of converting certain vehicles in the city to run on Liquefied Petroleum gas rather than diesel.

I look forward to working with my colleagues in parliament and on Southampton City council to tackle this momentous and growing issue across the U.K and Southampton. It is vital for the health of millions across the country that we get it right...and quickly done.

 

We need to tackle air pollution with a new urgency

This week I attended the inaugural meeting of the All party Parliamentary Group on air pollution chaired by Matthew Pennycook. Matthew described the state of air quality in the U.K....

You may well have seen or read about some of my actions concerning our Party in the last week.  Specifically, on Tuesday 28th June I resigned from my post as Shadow Energy Minister, and on the same day voted in a motion of ‘no confidence’ in Jeremy as our Leader in Parliament. Whilst the ballot was secret, I can say that I voted, along with over 80% of Labour MPs that I had ‘no confidence’. I appreciate that both of these actions may have caused some concern to some. I therefore want to tell you a little more about my decisions.

When Jeremy was elected as our leader last year I was more than prepared to give him my support and offer him my assistance in making his leadership work, even though I did not nominate him or vote for him as our Leader. Part of that support was my willingness to take on a Front Bench role as shadow energy minister, which is an appointment by the Leader and requires collective responsibility in its execution.

 It is clear now, however, that Jeremy has simply failed to step up to the mark in any of the key attributes required for leadership of our Party – as a Leader who unifies our Party, who can effectively communicate the case for Labour, and who can ensure that between all of us in Parliament we are able to do the same.  That is not an ideological criticism of Jeremy or of his many personal qualities. It is just to say that, manifestly to me, he is not up to the mark on even the most basic requirements of actually operating as Labour Leader: his actions during the Referendum and more recently when meeting prominent left-wing members of the Shadow Cabinet just underlines that judgement.

 With the changed political environment after the catastrophic events of this month, and with the prospect of an early general election in front of us, it is vital that we have a Leader of our Party who is able to lead Labour both inside Parliament and outside when putting forward alternatives to the Tories’ post Brexit policies and who properly represents the millions of Labour voters and supporters in the country. We will be letting them down forever if we do not offer them that opportunity.  Jeremy, as I have now come to see after working with him in Parliament for a year, simply isn’t that person, and never will be.

 So that was why as an MP, I voted as I did in the ‘no confidence’ motion.  It follows from this, that to remain in a position which requires as its starting point confidence in the Leader who appointed you in the first place would have been very dishonest both to myself and to Jeremy: which is why, immediately after casting my vote in the confidence motion, I handed in my resignation from the Front Bench. I did not want to do that: as you may know Energy and Climate change  is an area of politics I am passionate about and have some expertise in: it was exactly what I wanted to do on the Front Bench for Labour and I will always be grateful to Jeremy for giving me the opportunity to do the job. Under the circumstances I felt I had to resign.

 I really hope we can resolve the awful position we are now in as soon as possible. I think the best way to do this for all our sakes, would be for Jeremy to stand down as Leader of our Party, and give someone else a go: but should that not happen and we have a contested election for Leader as Party rules require, then we must think very carefully between us about who we elect from the candidates. This could be the making or breaking of the Party that I have been a member of now for forty years and desperately want to succeed in defending and furthering the lives of all those people who look to us to support them.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Resignation from the Shadow Frontbench

You may well have seen or read about some of my actions concerning our Party in the last week.  Specifically, on Tuesday 28th June I resigned from my post as Shadow...

calendar.jpgAlthough this week was overshadowed by my resignation, my week was busy and varied. I did everything from visit a primary school to delegate two legislation committees. I also continued to work hard on energy and the environment, albeit now from the back benches. I met with several energy companies, discussing new regulations and new technologies, with the aim of saving the environment while saving customers money.

Monday

I started the week with a day packed full of meetings; starting with talks with Southampton City Council regarding plans for a Solent Metro service, an exciting transport prospect between the docks and the airport. Then I met with Semitrex to discuss inverter technology, a new cutting edge technology designed to improve energy efficiency, and later delegated the Legislation Committee on the Draft Electricity Capacity Regulations 2016.

I also attended the All Party Channel Islands Group meeting, and ended the day with an Environmental Defence Fund Europe event.

Tuesday

Today I decided to make the decision to resign my Shadow Cabinet position as Energy Minister. You can read more about why I made this decision here. I will continue to fight for greener, cleaner energy from the backbenches. I also attended a meeting regarding the NHS after the Health and Social Care Act 2012. At the end of the day, I enjoyed speaking to Labour Party members about the Party’s strategy on environmental issues, something that is very important to me.

Wednesday

I had PMQs at noon, where Jeremy Corbyn quizzed Cameron on his plans to tackle the appalling rise in hate crimes since the referendum. I have been approached by concerned constituents about this and I promise that I will work with them in the face of any abuse that they face in the city. It is unacceptable that anyone face trouble because of who they are or where they are from. 

Later, I spoke with constituents as part of the women’s state pension age lobby, followed by a Hampshire and Isle of Wight APPG meeting with First Group. I concluded the day with the AGM of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Energy Studies.

Thursday

I dedicated Thursday to a Statoil briefing, which involved in-depth discussions regarding oil and gas production by the company.

Friday

I really enjoyed Friday since I spent the day in Southampton, initially at Shirley Warren Primary School, where the pupils are doing some great work to increase education provision in developing countries with the Send My Friend to School campaign. Afterwards, it was my pleasure to visit the General Hospital, and then hold my first constituency advice surgery of July.

Saturday

I spent Saturday where I left off on Friday, holding my second advice surgery of the month.

A Busy Week

Although this week was overshadowed by my resignation, my week was busy and varied. I did everything from visit a primary school to delegate two legislation committees. I also continued...


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