On 18 February, seven Labour MPs quit, to stand as independents. By 19 February, Joan Ryan had joined the Independent Group. All eight former Labour MPs have openly criticised Jeremy Corbyn, claiming his leadership is a key reason for leaving. Yet each and every one of them significantly increased their vote share under Corbyn in the 2017 general election.
The numbers don’t lie
So far, each Labour quitter has ruled out calling a by-election. On 20 February, the Times also reported that Labour might be considering “plans to consult on extending the rules” to trigger by-elections “to include an MP changing party allegiance”.
Yet one simple fact remains: in 2017, each Independent Group MP was elected with an increased majority with Corbyn as Labour leader:
Vote share under Corbyn & 2017 manifesto:
Mike Gapes up 11.8%
Ann Coffey up 13.4%
Luciana Berger up 10.2%
Chuka Ummuna up 15.5%
Gavin Shuker up 18.2%
Chris Leslie up 16.9%
Angela Smith up 3.8%
— Bevan Boy🌹 (@mac123_m) February 19, 2019
Joan Ryan’s majority boost was similar, with a 14.3% increase.
It remains to be seen whether these MPs will face a by-election. But many Labour voters are not happy.
Another MP, elected only through the support and power of the labour movement, resigns from the Party but won’t trigger a by-election. Because, again, they know they would lose. Completely and utterly disgraceful.
— Liam Young (@liamyoung) February 19, 2019
Joan Ryan rewriting history "I won my seat in 2017 despite not because of Corbyn" …you increased your majority from 1000 to 10000 because of him you liar @skynews
— pete best (@RickBlaine123) February 20, 2019
👋 👋 👋
Call a by-election and stand against Labour.
Lots of talent in the Labour Party, particularly women, who can replace them and offer a bold socialist vision. #LabourSplit
— George Aylett (@GeorgeAylett) February 18, 2019
People feel that if these MPs think their increased vote share was nothing to do with Corbyn, then they should be happy to face a by-election:
Strange that Joan Ryan's majority increased by 8,000 under Jeremy Corbyn in 2017. Almost exactly same increase as average of the other Tinge Party MPs. If all to do with their individual brilliance, as they claim, a by-election win would be easy. Surely?
— Socialist Action (@SocialistAct) February 20, 2019
Including John Woodcock & Frank Field There are now 10 MPs sitting in Parliament having been elected on the back of 1,000s of hours of unpaid work by Labour activists, gloating at the fact they don't even have to call a by-election after stabbing all these people in the back.
— Another Angry Voice (@Angry_Voice) February 20, 2019
I live in the neighbouring constituency to Joan Ryan’s, and went to school in Enfield North. Corbyn’s manifesto increased her majority nearly tenfold. She’s morally obliged to seek a new mandate from her constituents. pic.twitter.com/d0hnXJrVhI
— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) February 19, 2019
And some constituents have also spoken directly to the MPs they voted for as Labour candidates:
You are my MP.
I voted Labour at the last election. Your resignation means I am no longer represented by the party I and 38,000 others voted for.
If you really are putting your constituents first, then please resign your seat and fight a by-election
— joseph harker (@josephharker) February 18, 2019
I'm a Labour member and constituent of @ChukaUmunna in #Streatham. I pounded the streets during #GE2017 to elect Chuka on a Democratic Socialist Labour manifesto. He should immediately resign his seat and call a by-election. #shame #LabourSplit
— Martin Abrams 🐝🌹 (@Martin_Abrams) February 18, 2019
Now three Conservative MPs – Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen – have also jumped ship to join the Independent Group. If the defections do force by-elections and voters refuse to back the newly independent MPs, it could tip the balance of the Conservatives’ narrow Commons majority. Eyes on…
Featured image via Sophie Brown – Wikimedia
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