In sorrow – and in my own words – this is what happened this week:


Let’s be honest, if you told me a few months ago that I would have been sitting on a sofa in the shadow’s chancellor’s office this week waiting to see John McDonnell, I would have been more than a little surprised.

But the candidate I backed in the summer didn’t win and I was determined to continue to play my part in Labour politics under our new leadership.

That is why, after a good chat with him before Christmas, I agreed to help our new shadow chancellor by leading an initiative looking at how we address the issues raised by the government’s tax credits policy and ultimately how we combat child poverty and economic inequality.

These are the issues that brought me into politics and I believed it was the best chance of finding common ground with Jeremy and his new team. Offering to serve in this way was meant as a gesture of good will and an attempt to build bridges.

But, as with any working relationship, there are ground rules.

Unbeknownst to me, as I sat in John’s office waiting for him to arrive, he was touring the media studios telling anyone who would listen that Progress, the group of Labour activists I chair, is a ‘hard right’ organisation that follows a ‘conservative agenda’.

For someone who grew up on Merseyside under Thatcher and saw the impact the Conservatives had on my family and my city, I can think of no worse insult.

And it wasn’t just me John insulted, it was the thousands of hardworking Labour activists I represent, people who have sacrificed much of their lives in recent months to campaign for a Labour government and a fairer alternative to the Tories.

After all they have given to the party in the last year, our Labour activists deserve better than to see their own shadow chancellor insulting them on the news and calling them Tories.

The fact is that there was absolutely no provocation for John’s comments this week, and his refusal to apologise – which I asked his team for privately before saying anything in public – leaves me with no choice.

That is why I have reluctantly had to withdraw from an initiative which hadn’t even got off the ground.

As ever, I was happy to do my bit to contribute to party policy, even if that meant working with people I didn’t always agree with. But nobody should be expected to sit quietly and work for someone who is denouncing them on the national news.

I wanted to help with this project and am gutted that I have been forced into this.

Of course for my part I will continue challenging and opposing the Tories as I always have. As well as trying to find ways to tackle poverty and end inequality.

I hope our leadership will now turn their fire away from Labour MPs and activists and on to the Tory government that we all want to defeat.

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