Alan Whitehead MP

Member of Parliament for Southampton Test

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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 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.  











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