Another former shadow minister makes a mess of explaining her resignation

Sharon Hodgson MP [Image: Schoolsweek].

Sharon Hodgson MP [Image: Schoolsweek].

Sharon Hodgson is the latest in the line of former shadow ministers to provide an unconvincing explanation for her resignation – more than a month after she handed in her notice.

She follows several others, including Lilian Greenwood and Thangam Debbonaire, who have seen fit to tell us Jeremy Corbyn is a poor leader who did not listen to his shadow cabinet and announced policies without consulting them.

It isn’t convincing, because the overall effect is of a co-ordinated smear campaign, with statements released at intervals, all very similar in content.

So Ms Hodgson tells us she quit because she saw the ringleaders of the so-called ‘Chicken Coup’ quitting, and that was enough for her to decide it was time to hand in her notice too:

Unfortunately, I could not continue supporting Jeremy after the events that followed Hilary Benn’s sacking.

I was not part of any “Blairite coup” or orchestrated plan to damage Jeremy’s leadership. My decision was my own. On the Monday after the Shadow Cabinet resignations, I got on the train to London, as I do every week, and had no plan to resign. Yet, as Monday progressed, it became clear that Jeremy’s leadership could not go on.

As MPs such as Owen Smith, Kate Green, and Lisa Nandy left a meeting with Jeremy and resigned, it was clear that the situation had taken a turn for the worse. These MPs are not “Blairites”, and they resigned due to Jeremy’s inability to engage with his cabinet. Jeremy had lost the confidence of most of his Shadow Cabinet, and in turn lost my confidence in him as Leader. Instead of carrying on as if nothing was wrong, I stood up for what I believed and made the difficult decision to resign.

They all resigned because the sacking of Hilary Benn triggered their move – they were following his lead. That makes Ms Hodgson a follower of followers.

Let’s look at her little tale of trouble with the leader:

It has been clear from his lack of engagement with his Shadow Ministers and the wider Parliamentary Labour Party where our democratic policy development processes have been over-run by the leadership or ignored.

My office and I spent months preparing for a Labour Party review into special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to feed into Labour’s manifesto for the 2020 General Election. I identified the issues we needed to address; I raised questions in the chamber; I met stakeholders to discuss the review, and my staff put together a briefing for the wider PLP and the Leadership Office, and worked to get media coverage. Three days after the launch, I found out that my review had been completely undermined by our Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell.

Without consulting me, John had announced his support for a Shadow Neurodiversity Minister and an autism manifesto. My office picked up John’s announcement on Twitter, and subsequently raised the issue with him, requesting an opportunity to meet to discuss the matter further. After receiving no response, my team made several more attempts to reach out to John’s office, which were all met with no answer.

The combination of silence from John’s office and the large number of inquiries from external bodies and the media, left me with no option but to contact Jeremy’s office directly. Instead of support and an offer to resolve the problem, we were simply acknowledged with the sentence, “I appreciate the point”, and then told to expect an apology and clarification later, which never arrived. Indeed, nobody ever reached out to discuss the matter with me.

In all my time in Parliament, I have never experienced such lack of communication or respect for a shadow minister’s work from a Leader. To form a credible and effective opposition, a Leader must work with the PLP and respect the opinions of their shadow ministers. Jeremy needs to lead his MPs as well as the membership. Sadly, Jeremy has failed to fulfil the parliamentary aspect of his role from day one.

As members of the public, we have no evidence of Labour’s internal affairs. We have no proof that Ms Hodgson was carrying out the work she described for the reasons she mentioned and no evidence that she contacted John McDonnell in the way she describes – if she hadn’t, that would explain his lack of a response.

And again, where she discusses correspondence with Mr Corbyn, we have no evidence to show that a dialogue happened in the way she described.

In the light of Mr McDonnell’s previous comments about Heidi Alexander, any such statement is questionable and it is important to learn the other side of the story before making any judgements.

In the case of Ms Alexander, it seemed to the Labour leadership that she was dragging her heels – failing to take appropriate action against the Conservatives in her policy area of health.

Perhaps the story with Ms Hodgson is similar.

She is right that Mr Corbyn needs to lead his MPs, but it is much easier to do so when one has MPs who accept their duty to follow their elected leader.

We have all seen far too much evidence to show that they were more interested in stabbing him in the back.

Additional: A Vox Political reader got in touch on Facebook to point out the following: “SEND can work alongside Neurodiversity and autism, since Neurodiversity and ASD are an aspect of special educational needs.” In other words, his support for a shadow neurodiversity minister and autism manifesto would not have interfered with Ms Hodgson’s work.

Source: Sharon writes to local Labour Party members on her resignation and her support for Owen Smith MP – Sharon Hodgson MP

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16 thoughts on “Another former shadow minister makes a mess of explaining her resignation

  1. Fibro confused

    The title of her piece says it all, if she had left out the real reason why she’s decided to have ago at Jeremy now it might have had a whiff of truth, might have had us asking a few questions, but oh no she had to make it bloody obvious, She’s done it to back Smith, I’ve had a good laugh at the reason she had to write an email to all the members as most failed to turn up to the meeting, I wonder why members didn’t turn up hmm? Also reading it after the past couple of days of campaign speeches Jeremy has made, each venue packed,today in Leeds the queues to see Jeremy were incredible, Owen Smith and Ice cream van and maybe 100 onlookers. They want us to trust them, believe anything they say, no chance not now.

    1. Thomas Walker

      Members didn’t turn up because we never knew it was happening. Sharon Hodgson is my MP,me and the wife were canvassing support for remain with Sharon the Wednesday before the referendum. She was very supportive of Jeremy to our faces but obviously had her own agenda. Won’t fall for that again.

      1. Fibro confused

        So some CLP meetings were already being secretive and not informing members of meetings taking place, it’s like something out of a child’s book, beggars belief these are adults worse than that they want to run the country and can’t and won’t understand why politicians except Jeremy & co are not trusted. Westminster isn’t in a bubble it’s on another planet!

  2. John

    LOL, I actually read this one her blog site (via a twitter post), before you posted it here.
    She also mentioned about blaming Corbyn for the EURef disaster. Obviously the fact that 75%? of LP members voted Remain, didn’t mean anything to her?
    Got to say, I loved the “I was not part of any “Blairite Coup” ” line. However one could surely argue that the “orchestrated plan” was either part of or was the “Blairite coup”, wouldn’t you say?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      63 per cent of Labour members voted Remain – still more, numerically, than any other party leader achieved.
      I’d agree with your suggestion about the ‘Blairite coup’.

      1. John

        Sorry, I don’t know where I got 75% from then (defo read it somewhere).
        Here’s the thing though, about the EURef. He’s always made less than favourable comments about the EU, he’s never hidden his views! Yet, Labour and Corbyn choose to run a campaign to stay IN the EU! He explains his reasons etc etc (though I’ve got to admit, I can’t remember what he’s said). When the EU Ref goes badly, guess who gets the blame? This is why it’s so obvious that they’re not really attacking him bcos of the EURef, it’s just an excuse TO attack him. End of rant at 1am on a Sunday morning! 🙂

      2. John

        Actually, just had a thought. “I was not part of any Blairite coup”. Would she have admitted it, if she HAD been ??!! LMAO

      1. John

        So that’s where I got the 75 from then! Actually, 63% is really not bad at all, considering that people knew what Corbyn’s views on the EU were anyway. Heck, some ppl on twitter were even taking the p*ss out of Corbyn for effectively doing a U-turn on the subject!

  3. alex curran

    I just wish that when they walked out of a job they were asked to do they did not automatically go to the back benches. I am pretty sure that if conditions were like that of most of the population that they were then sacked for failure to do there job they would think twice about playing the prima donna. They would miss the big fat pay check and expenses and free house and all rest of the things the Blairites are afraid they are going to lose as well as having to play second fiddle to the people they are actually supposed to represent.

  4. Paul Rutherford

    Same as the others… “I spent ages working on something and JC ignored me so I threw a hissy fit, had a tantrum and resigned even though I’m a good girl really so don’t tell me off and be horrid to me”. Just the same.

    Do they all think we’re stupid?

  5. Roy Beiley

    The text of her email has all the hallmarks of it being created by a PR wordsmith trying to include as many of the cliches which appear in other rebels’ posts. What is it that appears to piss them off so much about shadow cabinet meetings chaired by JC? Is it his choice of flavour for his noodles? Chicken flavour perhaps?

  6. Nick Pile

    Be in no doubt. There is in progress an attempt to hijack the Labour Party, or rather a concerted attempt by the PLP rump to regain contol and push Labour back to the dark ages. It’s reminiscent of the days of Militant, and other entryist groups, except that the “Rump” is already embedded in the party, and will do ANYTHING it can to hang on to some sort of power and influence. Because this is their income, their desire to control, their place in the Establishment. And if you need a further nudge, remember that the hero, the icon of the “rump” had to talk with friends and take advice as to whether initially to join Labour or Conservative in order to achieve his ends. Need a name? Clue? Absense of principles.

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