Frank Field resigns the Labour whip

01 September, 2018, 01:58 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Rabbi Lord Sacks

Always a maverick who often failed to side with his party, the veteran MP, Frank Field has resigned the Labour parliamentary whip.

Mr Field, who has been a Labour MP for nearly 40 years, lost a confidence vote by his constituency party after voting with the government over Brexit plans.

Mr Field told the Guardian that he was contemplating hiring a solicitor to fight any attempt to remove him from the party.

Mr Field, the one-time minister for welfare reform, who was charged by Tony Blair to reform the welfare state by "thinking the unthinkable", said in his resignation letter that the party was now governed by "a culture of intolerance, nastiness and intimidation".

Field, 79, has been MP for Birkenhead since 1979.

The first centres on the latest example of Labour's leadership becoming a force for anti-Semitism in British politics. "I said I would think about it because it is insane to spend an hour with the chief whip and not think about what he said, but I didn't express any enthusiasm for that".

A Labour Party spokesman has thanked Mr Field for his service to Labour. It saddens me to say that we are increasingly seen as a racist party.

Brandon Lewis, Conservative Party Chair, said Field's decision was a "damning indictment of Jeremy Corbyn's total inability to take action against bullying and anti-semitic racism within Labour". Many submissions have since come from me as well as from loyal Party members.


Mr Field also hit out at his local division of the party, describing it as the second factor that drove him to quit. That Ms Reecejones should not be a member of the Party, let alone represent us in public positions, has been underscored by decisions taken by Wirral Council.

A number of Mr Field's Labour colleagues have praised him and expressed their own concerns about their party. This issue compels me to resign the whip.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson struck a different tone as he spoke for all the other Labour MPs who might be considering whether to walk out on Jeremy Corbyn.

Former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of U.K. and The Commonwealth, Jonathan Sacks blasted U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as "an anti-Semite" who supports "racists, terrorists and dealers of hate", adding that a speech the party leader gave five years ago was the "most offensive statement by a senior British politician since [Conservative parliament member] Enoch Powell's 1968 "Rivers of Blood" speech".

They also said it would not be possible for Field to remain in the party having resigned the whip, despite his intentions to do so. "We can not afford to lose people of such weight and stature", he said.

Field's position was already in doubt after he lost a motion of no confidence among his constituency Labour party last month after backing the government's position on a crucial Brexit vote in the House of Commons. This is, I fear, just one example of a phenomenon that has tightened its grip on CLPs across the country and is being driven, in part, by members who in previous years would never have been able to claim Labour Party membership.

But he said his hope "could not have been more wide of the mark" and the party is now intolerant.

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