Tag Archives: Ann Coffey

‘Independent Group’ MPs face demands for by-elections in their constituencies

Challenge: Luciana Berger speaking at the launch of the Independent Group. Within hours the Labour Party in her Wavertree constituency had challenged her to prove she deserves to continue as MP for the constituency by taking part in a by-election.

February 18 was a big day for the “Maleficent Seven” Labour MPs who quit to form their own “Independent Group” in Parliament – and now they are facing demands for by-elections in their constituencies.

Local Labour members who helped Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Luciana Berger, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey say they were elected into Parliament on a Labour manifesto but the people of those constituencies no longer have representatives who support that manifesto. They say voters are entitled to choose whether they want to keep the MPs they have, or elect someone who means it when they say they support Labour ideals.

All in all, it was hardly an auspicious start for the group, whose members intended to use their split from Labour to highlight alleged faults in the party they were leaving.

We very soon had ample evidence that the schism was hardly prompted by recent events – the group’s website was registered in 2015… in a tax haven abroad.

The headquarters of this Brexit-opposing organisation is above a Wetherspoons pub – an organisation that supports Brexit – called, appropriately, The Unicorn.

And it turns out that this political organisation is nothing of the sort – it is in fact a company called Gemini A Ltd. This allows it to take advantage of a legal loophole that means Gemini A Ltd does not have to declare the identity of its financial backers. We don’t know who is funding these MPs.

Within hours of the new group being announced, Ms Smith had plunged it into a racism row with ill-judged remarks on the BBC’s Politics Live.

And now all seven are facing challenges to justify their claims on their Parliamentary seats.

See for yourself:

(For those who have trouble reading images, the tweet from Wavertree CLP says: “We are extremely disappointed that Luciana Berger has made the decision to resign from the Labour Party. 35,000 people in Wavertree voted for the Labour Manifesto in 2017, yet they are no longer represented by a Labour MP. We call on Luciana Berger to immediately resign the seat, to give the people of Wavertree the opportunity to decide who represents them in Parliament.”)

It seems this new organisation is built on lies and broken promises. That is a poor platform from which to demand the trust of the people.

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MPs split off from the Labour Party. Voters say ‘Good riddance!’

Chuka Umunna: Good riddance.

A group of seven MPs has split off from the Labour Party – to gasps of relief across the United Kingdom.

The reaction is probably not what they wanted.

The group includes Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker and Angela Smith as expected.

Joining them are Luciana Berger – quitting before her Liverpool Wavertree CLP pushes through the “no confidence” vote that members have been readying? – along with Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey.

The group has released a statement but it seems its website is having teething problems – odd since it has been registered since 2015 – and I can’t really be bothered unless Vox Political readers are genuinely interested. Are you?

It’s much more fun to highlight the public response, which is primarily relief. The flood of comments yesterday (Sunday, February 18) when rumours spread that the split would happen today, speaks for itself. Some thought this was another publicity stunt and they would not go through with it:

Others pointed out the qualities of the expected splitters and the likely tensions between them:

The prevailing mood – especially in the case of Mr Umunna, was clear:

And some posted wish lists of other Labour members they would like to see split off – for a very obvious reason:

Mr Jeffery will be pleased to see Ms Berger and Mr Gapes among the splitters. Mr Gapes is also on Matt Zarb-Cousins’s list:

Speculation on what the “Independent Group” would represent has been overwhelmingly negative towards them:

And the departure will provoke comparisons with the “Gang of Four” who formed the SDP in 1981. That decision led to the formation of the Liberal Democrats, a party that apparently killed itself off as a national political organisation by forming a coalition with the Conservatives between 2010 and 2015. Here’s Martin O’Neill:

As ever, Tony Benn called it correctly – 38 years ago.

Last word goes to Liam Young:

Damn straight – good riddance.