Alan Whitehead MP

Member of Parliament for Southampton Test

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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...

calendar.jpgThis week was very disappointing due to the E.U. referendum result and the chaos that followed. Already we are seeing signs of economic instability with the pound dropping and our credit rating being downgraded and I worry it is only a matter of time before the result starts to negativity affect Southampton. My work as an MP however continued, supporting many charities doing great work across Southampton, and continuing with my energy work in Parliament and in meetings. As the full consequences of Brexit emerge, I will continue to work hard in mitigating any adverse effects on Southampton.

Monday

I was delighted to start the week by speaking at the UNISON Annual Energy Conference, where I criticised the government for turning its back on the chance to create a more efficient, cheaper and greener energy supply system. Later that day I headed back to Parliament for a special session to remember Jo Cox. I was horrified when I got the news that Jo had been killed whilst doing her job as an MP in her constituency, I will remember Jo as someone who got things done with zeal and enthusiasm. I hope we can all remember her belief that we have more in common than divides us when we go about our work in politics. 

Tuesday

On Tuesday I had a phone call discussing sustainable farming systems, GLOBE, and the Brooke, a charity which does great work helping with the use of horses and donkeys for farming in developing countries.

I then attended the presentation of the Annual City of Sanctuary Southampton Award, which celebrates schools who have welcomed refugee children. After the award ceremony, I enjoyed a performance of the World Stage Drama Now play ‘Welcome’.

Wednesday

Today I had the pleasure of visiting the 3rd Age Centre Community and Football Development Project, a Southampton based charity which provides community resources and delivers activities to local people. Afterwards, I attended my second show of the week, although this time it was a City College art students’ end of year exhibition.

Thursday

Thursday was of course the long awaited referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. I worked tirelessly with volunteers across Southampton, campaigning on behalf of Labour In for Britain. Unfortunately we didn't get the result we had campaigned for, but a big thank you to all of Labour's volunteers on the day. 

Saturday

On Saturday I enjoyed attending an autism event in Southampton, which rose awareness for this great cause.

My week including the EU referendum

This week was very disappointing due to the E.U. referendum result and the chaos that followed. Already we are seeing signs of economic instability with the pound dropping and our...


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