Exclusive: Williamson on his resignation


Labour’s Fire Safety front bencher Chris Williamson has today stepped down from his role. The short official Labour press release states simply:

Chris Williamson has decided to stand down from his frontbench role as Shadow Fire Minister

Chris Williamson MP said: “I will be standing down from my role with immediate effect so that I can return to the back benches, where I will be campaigning on a broader range of issues. I will continue to loyally support the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn from the back benches and hope to be a voice for the party’s members.”

Williamson’s resignation is connected to his recent comments about a possible plan to be launched in Derby to charge significantly higher council tax to owners of properties in the top tax band, in order to protect other residents from any rise. This was misrepresented by the Conservatives’ official Twitter account as a large rise for all residents.

In fact, it was a very good ‘for the many’ idea designed to protect those who need it – and was in any case a local issues rather than party policy. The idea was also not news, having been announced in September.

Williamson told the SKWAWKBOX:

I’d been considering stepping aside for a while anyway in order concentrate on ways of bringing the party closer to the membership and acting as conduit for policy ideas from the members.

Jeremy has also asked me to develop our thinking around environmental and animal rights issues, in line with my background as a hunt saboteur.

I’ve stepped down with a heavy heart but feel I’ve set a good direction for the role and I’m confident my successor will do a great job in taking it forward.

Williamson has been a star performer on the front bench and will be sorely missed, but most Labour members will be hoping for a swift return for the Derby North MP.

His formal press release on his decision states:

I’d like to confirm that I have resigned as Labour’s Shadow Minister for Fire and Emergency Services.

I’ve taken this decision to bring me closer to the membership of our party and to allow me to work on a broader range of issues, from environmental policy, animal rights and local government.

Leaving my role as Shadow Minister for Fire and Emergency Services was not an easy decision to reach. However, I have every confidence that Jeremy’s Labour Party is going in the right direction. My experience on the front bench has shown me how the Tories have lied about the amount of available reserves held by Fire Authorities. They have attempted to distract the public from the government’s dangerous cuts to the service by pointing to misleading figures on the falling number of fire related deaths, rather than the large increase in the total number of rescues. 

I intend to continue to champion the membership, fight for my constituents and make Derby North a shining example of how Labour can win broad support in marginal constituencies whilst maintaining socialist principles at our core.

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  1. I’m gutted about this :0( Corbyn needs shadow ministers who support him and who are socialists. Williamson was a really good one.

  2. Gutted! We must have MP’s like Chris who have Jeremy’s back! This is a blow! I must admit, I don’t really understand why he had to resign.

    1. He can still have JCs back, and a bit more freedom too, from the back benches.

    2. More true Socialist, manifesto and Corbyn supporting MPs is, imo urgent.

      I am sure Williamson will still be fighting hard from the back benches and for his constituents.

  3. Chris will continue to be a force for good, and with his natural easy way of communicating via blog, tv and print I hope he will continue to be a source of great ideas and inspiration for the membership, and for Labour supporters. He will be missed on the shadow front bench, no mistake, but I expect there are others with talent that Jeremy can promote to replace him, even if it will be difficult for anyone to fill his shoes in the short term. I wonder if his past as a hunt sab is about to catch up with him, or similar? It’s usually the reason people have to resign, not because of wrong doing, but because of the MSM constant assaults on trumped-up (!) “misdemeanors”.

  4. This is a rare example of a Labour MP placing the interests of the party above their own personal ambitions. As rare as hens teeth.

    I have always held Chris in high esteem but this selfless act has placed him another couple of notches higher.

    It is arguable that this is unnecessary but then who am I to question the judgment of such a principled person?

    I have no doubt whatsoever that in due course Mr Williamson will be returning to the front bench of a Corbyn led Labour Government.

  5. I’m sure he’ll kick Tory arse just as effectively from the back benches as the front – for now.
    He’s a natural.
    Flying kites like that can be useful to move the narrative on.
    We’ll see.

  6. I trust Chris Williamson to choose the most urgent and effective way to fight for the protection of environment and the animals who depend upon it and have us much right to live on this planet, as we do. The world needs these creatures, more than most of us have ever realised.

    Jeremy Corbyn has far too large an agenda to take up this specific issue but he probably understands and appreciates Chris Williamson’s choice.
    It’s a very risky move for Chris but I’m certain that he’s aware of this.
    He’s certainly,apart from his leader, the most principled and respected Labour politicians, and if policies are truly “for the many”, they need to include the non-human inhabitants of our country.

  7. Chris is a critical thinking left wing democratic socialist and I wish we had 350 (diverse) Labour MPs like him. Perhaps the greatest victory of Neo-Liberalism UP UNTIL NOW was to stop the left from dreaming. As Rosa Luxemburg once argued – the best thing we all bring to the table is our independent socialist critical thinking.
    I can empathise with Chris as I burst with ideas; I champion free public transport for example but I guess the best we can hope for in that case from Labour is perhaps to copy the Socialist Mayor in Paris and have towns and cities up and down the country (with poor air quality) having occasional1 – 3 days of free public transport. In Paris this meant 60% of cars being banned, free travel on the Metro and free public transport on buses – it got rid of their smog and cost £5m a year.
    The last Labour branch meeting I went to I suggested reforms in Labour in local government (but had not thought this through 100% and had not done the research 100% but was tired after work) and some Right Wing Labour members at the meeting (who are devoid of ideas) actually laughed at me – for attempting to think.
    And I thought of a quote by Terry Pratchett: “Those with imagination are often criticised by those with none!” I guess with our humanity some of are impatient for change BUT PERHAPS WE ARE THE STARS; I BELIEVE WE WILL WIN IN THE END! Solidarity!

  8. Brilliant work done so far by Chris .Agree with many comments re his principled politics and stance .Something others in the PLP would do well to learn from

  9. I’m sorry that Chris has left the front benches, he has worked tirelessly for our amazing firefighters and deserves huge respect for that.
    Nevertheless, it’s great that he will have more time to devote his energies to environmental policy and animal rights, as these are vitally important (particularly to me). The climate is changing in an alarming way and already affecting the world’s wildlife detrimentally. The existing environmental campaigns desperately need someone as dedicated as he has shown himself to be.
    I said this much on his facebook page and wished him the best of luck in his endeavours.
    He replied thus: “Chris Williamson MP Exactly Wendé, thanks!”

  10. Chris must have very important reasons for resigning his post on the shadow front bench!
    I hope he is selected again by JC when we attain power, in not the distant future!
    I, wish you all the very best Chris, keep up your political chats on U TUBE.
    You’re only moving to a fresh seat in the house!

  11. I thought Chris was great – a real breath of fresh air in the stale corridors of Westminster. Let’s hope it’s onwards and upwards for him as politician and activist

  12. Gutted too, until I gave the matter some deeper thought. The Conservatives true to form took his quote and deliberately lied about it and deliberately misrepresented it, thus deliberately misleading the public. The Tories and Tory MSM would have used this as a distraction from the utter chaos they are in, so quick and decisive action was called for. 1) Chris is brilliant and typically unselfish, he’s putting country, party and members before himself.
    2) Jeremy has acted quickly thus showing the public that when required he can and will act decisively, exposing the flaws and the precarious position of Mrs May who is stymied by her right-wing and cannot move for fear of upsetting them.
    3) By acting so quickly and with minimal fuss he stopped the Blairite cfactions chin wagging and also opened the door for a return much faster.
    4) It’s my belief we will not get through 2018 without a general election something catastrophic is brewing that WILL bring this horrendous government down. Chris will be back inside 6 months.

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