By-election to come as left veteran Paul Flynn announces plans to step down

Paul Flynn

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.

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    1. Me to. Impressively one of the first MPs to use the internet to communicate with electors – I recall a newsletter in the 1990s, via email if memory serves. Then one of the first MP websites, with an early blog. Hope he gets mobile again soon.

  1. I hope that Newport find a decent replacement! Very sad to see him go and wish him well in his retirement.

  2. Sad to see him go.

    However, he nominated Liz Kendall in the 2015 Labour leadership election. It is never a good idea to support people who oppose you.

    Perhaps he would have nominated Corbyn if he had got off to an earlier start. That may be true of a number of Labour MPs.

    It is easy now to forget how truly hideous that leadership election was until Corbyn got into the race.

    Andy Burnham’s denunciation of the mansion tax was particularly sickening. The ‘politics of envy’ he called it.
    Still, some good came out of it: it helped cause his defeat!

  3. Newport need to find another like him He’s one of the few genuine MP’s that has worked hard for things that the Labour part represent. He will be missed. Always admired him and wished we had one like him in my own Ward. “hope that his eventual successor will be as fiery and a solid left-winger, as Welsh Labour already suffers a surfeit of so-called centrists” No true a statement could be said.

  4. Early 1970s, I went to the Tredegar Arms, Newport, to listen to Neil Kinnock explain why we must never join the EU. Sitting nearby was Paul Flynn, looking distinctly uncomfortable. Within 2 years Mr & Mrs Kinnock were MEPs. Snouts in the trough.

    1. 20 years you mean?

      Anyway, never knew exactly where Paul Flynn stood but it was always plain he was left of ‘new labour’ and I can admire him for that.

      There were (and still are, unfortunately) many labour mp’s not in his league. Hopefully that will change soon. Let’s see if Newport W. can replace him like-for-like, or better.

      I wish him well in his retirement – something I’ll only do very sparingly with what’s out there now.

      1. “20 years you mean”.

        Precisely. The following is from wikipedia:

        Kinnock led the Labour Party to a surprise fourth consecutive defeat at the 1992 general election, despite the party being ahead in most opinion polls; which had predicted either a narrow Labour victory or a hung parliament. Afterwards, he resigned as Leader of the Labour Party after nine years. He resigned from the House of Commons in 1995 to become a European Commissioner. He went on to become the Vice-President of the European Commission under Romano Prodi from 1999-2004.

      2. “Kinnock led the Labour Party to a surprise fourth consecutive defeat at the 1992 general election, despite the party being ahead in most opinion polls”

        Allan, it was no surprise to me – I cringed watching his premature celebration on stage at that ridiculously overblown US-style Sheffield rally with his faux-Yank “We’re AAW-RIGHT” and thought “Well that’s fucked it.”
        It was confirmation of the plonkerdom hinted at by a middle-aged comb over falling in the sea – wearing a suit – while attempting to frolic like a lamb for the news cameras.
        No dignity, no foresight.
        We were dead in the water before that S*n front page.

  5. It’s the Cardiff new labour dead hand on selection we have to worry about. With the power base of Owen Who?, the Kinnock’s, and their trade union (members not consulted) money, its almost a certainty that the selection will be so tightly controlled it may be blue in the face.

  6. to lose another mp who supports the Labour Party not the blairites is a shame but who ever fills his shoes I hope they are of the same supporting their leader

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