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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