Following the news earlier this week that seven Labour Members of Parliament have quit the party to join a new independent group of MPs, Luke Pollard has written the below statement that he would like to make public.
Politics is a mess at the moment. Brexit is more complicated, expensive and difficult than we were told it would be. And politics is broken and is in need of reform. The Government is weak and divided and presiding over crises in housing, the NHS and Universal Credit to name but a few.
It’s against this background that on 18 February seven of my colleagues in the Commons decided to leave the Labour Party.
Let me say from the get go that I didn’t want them to leave and I think they’ve made the wrong call. The party is bigger than one person or one group of people. We are at our best when we are a broad church and when the Tories are on the rocks this is a distraction from what the public need us to be doing.
Being an MP is a huge privilege. It is a responsibility to deliver for the people you represent. I would not be your MP if I stood for another party or as an independent. I am your MP because I stood as the Labour and Cooperative Party candidate and because of the team behind the party. Our movement and our values is what is the strength and power behind our elected MPs and councillors and I remember that every day.
When an MP or Councillor leaves a party to defect or drop the party whip I believe that they should stand down and trigger a by-Election. The communities who elected these seven MPs voted for a Labour MP and that is what they should have the opportunity to have again. When I was elected people put a cross next to my name and the Labour Party logo. If either changes then the voters should decide what happens next.
I am proud to be a Labour and Co-operative MP. I am proud of our values, our history and our local party. I am not going anywhere. They will have to carry me out of the party in a box. I am Labour and I am proud to be Labour as I know you are too.
Our party and our politics is not perfect. Problems with anti-semitism and hate are real and as Jeremy has said there is no place for it in our party. We all need to do our bit to live the values of our party in all our actions and challenge those who behave contrary to our values of equality and social justice. That should apply to me and Jeremy and the Shadow Cabinet and to party members and volunteers. It is what makes us different to our opponents.
Every day I am reminded about the cruelty and disinterest this Tory Government has in the people I represent. From the poverty and hunger caused by a botched Universal Credit to cuts across the public sector and the ongoing pain caused by austerity.
Getting rid of this Tory Government remains my priority. The decision of my colleagues to leave our party makes getting rid of the Tories harder.
I was always taught that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we do alone. That is true today as it was throughout our party’s history and it will be true tomorrow. Our values stand the test of time and whether MPs come or go our values must and will endure and survive.
If you have any concerns about our politics at the moment or direction of our party or country please contact me. I am here to represent your views to our party. We have important elections in May in Plymouth to re-elect a Labour Council and we must be general election ready at all times.
As your MP I remain proud of our values, our party and our members. Keep your heads up and stay strong. People are relying on us to deliver a Labour Government and let’s not shy away from that challenge.
Luke Pollard MP
Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport