Ex-Labour MP John Woodcock started the recent trend, if two is a trend, of Labour MPs resigning from the party without trusting their mandate – or respecting their constituents – enough to offer them a chance to choose in a by-election whether they want to continue to be represented by an ‘independent’ MP.
Woodcock resigned, he said, because he didn’t trust Labour to investigate allegations of sexual harassment against him. And of course, because he believes Labour suddenly became antisemitic when Jeremy Corbyn became leader.
As only around 6% of voters cast their ballot for an individual MP rather than for the party they represent, an MP making a unilateral decision for thousands of people is bold, to say the least. Birkenhead MP Frank Field has followed Woodcock’s example, at least for the moment, although he is reportedly considering resigning his seat to trigger a by-election.
Whether accidentally or by design, it seems someone at John Woodcock’s local paper, the North-West Evening Mail may have sent him a message from his Cumbrian constituents when composing an email to its ‘morning news briefing’ subscribers recently:
Of course, “Occam’s razor” would suggest that it’s pure coincidence. However, the same publication did recently run a poll that suggested two-thirds of voters in the constituency would vote for a Labour candidate, with fewer than one in five saying they would support Mr Woodcock – while Labour’s north-west regional board unanimously voted to demand that Woodcock stand down to trigger a by-election.
Unsurprisingly, Woodcock shows no signs of wishing to ‘test his mandate’. Will Frank Field show more spine and principle in Birkenhead?
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