Veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn – one of a small band of genuine parliamentary left-wingers representing the party in Wales – has announced that he will step down shortly from his Newport West seat and trigger a by-election – unless a snap general election is called first, as he would prefer to save taxpayer money if possible.
The 83-year-old MP, a fluent Welsh speaker and former Shadow Welsh Secretary, has been suffering from a worsening of rheumatoid arthritis.
Flynn is famously straight-talking and has endeared himself to the Labour left with outspoken and witty rebukes of right-wing MPs for their trouble-causing – but he also argued in a 2016 conference speech for giving MPs who resigned during the infamous post-referendum ‘chicken coup’ an opportunity to come back into the fold. However, even that was seasoned with pepper, with Flynn saying that the previous twelve months of disloyalty and agitation since Corbyn’s election as leader needed to be buried under six feet of concrete with a sign saying,
Never should the last 12 months be unearthed from its dishonoured grave.
Flynn also set an example for Labour’s right-wing MPs in his behaviour in adverse circumstances. When replaced after a short 2016 spell on Labour’s front bench, Flynn was reportedly less than thrilled about returning to the back benches but declined invitations to complain publicly, saying:
Some people are aggrieved with the reshuffle. I am not ecstatic but I will remain silent on the irritating details to avoid setting another hare running.
How badly many of his back-bench colleagues could do with learning that lesson.
Flynn has been equally unapologetic in his criticism of the right outside the Labour Party. He criticised Tories for their acceptance of Russian donations by tweeting, after the Skripal poisoning, that the Tories were now sponsored by ‘Nerve Gass Killers R Us’ and said that Donald Trump should be arrested during his UK visit for inciting racial hatred.
Flynn has been a noted activist for the legalisation of cannabis, once helping a multiple sclerosis sufferer make cannabis tea on the terrace of the Houses of Parliament and has been an ardent anti-nuclear campaigner.
The SKWAWKBOX wishes Mr Flynn better health and a happy retirement – and hopes that his eventual successor will be as fiery and a solid left-winger, as Welsh Labour already suffers a surfeit of so-called centrists.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.