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Black Country Labour MPs: Time to fight to save party

By Pete Madeley | Politics | Published:

Labour MPs have been urged to fight to save their party from the hard left in the wake of a string of resignations over anti-Semitism and Brexit.

Labour MPs Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes, Ann Coffey, Luciana Berger, Angela Smith, Chuka Umunna and Gavin Shuker announce their resignations during a press conference today as they create a new Independent Group in the House of Commons

Politicians from around the Black Country warned that good people were being "driven out" of Labour by Momentum activists determined to turn the party into an "intolerant and virulent sect".

It came as seven Labour MPs quit the party, criticising Jeremy Corbyn's handling of allegations of anti-Semitism and his stance on the UK's departure from the EU.

Hard left activists have been accused of attempting to turn the Labour party into an "intolerant and virulent sect" as centrist MPs were urged to "fight to save the party".

Among the 'gang of seven' were Luciana Berger, who said she was "embarrassed and ashamed" to be a member of "institutionally anti-Semitic" Labour party, and Chris Leslie, who said the party had been "hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left".

Warley MP John Spellar said it was "regrettable" that the group had resigned, and in reference to the 'gang of four' split in 1981, warned that they "risked repeating the mistakes of the past".

John Spellar

In a direct attack on hard left activists, he added: "The main people responsible for the split are Momentum and their allies, who have brought back intolerance to the Labour party. They fail to recognise that Labour only wins when it is a broad church.

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"They want it to be an intolerant and virulent sect."

Dudley North MP Ian Austin, a long time critic of Mr Corbyn, said: “I have been warning that the new hard left leadership of the Labour Party is turning a mainstream party into something very different, and it is terrible that the culture of extremism, anti-Semitism and intolerance is driving good MPs and decent people who have committed their life to mainstream politics to leave the Labour Party.

Ian Austin

"It impossible to say where this will end up, but to those MPs who disagree with this course of action and tell people to stay and fight to save the Labour Party, I say: you had better start fighting.

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"If more people had spoken out about anti-Semitism and extremism, we might not be in the position today where good people are being driven out."

Wolverhampton North East MP Emma Reynolds, said she was "deeply saddened that seven of my colleagues have decided to leave the party".

Emma Reynolds

"The Labour party has to be a broad church – bullying and anti-Semitism cannot be tolerated. My focus remains on getting rid of this Tory government which is doing so much damage."

Pat McFadden, the MP for Wolverhampton South East, said the resignations posed "a big test" for Labour’s leadership.

"The Labour party has always been a broad church with a range of views, but many of Labour’s moderates have not felt welcome in recent years," he said.

Pat McFadden

"There has been a damaging and deeply unpleasant culture of factionalism, shown most clearly in the appalling anti-Semitism directed at a number of MPs and more broadly at those within the party who value the traditions and achievements of Labour Governments in the past.

"I am sad that some colleagues have felt forced to come to this decision, but the criticisms they have made on what has happened to Labour’s culture, values and traditions are serious and substantial and will be shared by many who have not decided to leave.”

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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