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News, gossip and insight from PoliticsHome Editor Paul Waugh

Healey resignation letter

I can reveal John Healey is quitting the Shadow Cabinet to spend more time with his family. Here's his letter dated 30 September and Ed Miliband's reply dated 5 October.

30 September 2011

Dear Ed

We – and you personally – have had a strong and successful conference. I know you will now be turning your mind to strategy for the months ahead, including the make-up of your shadow ministerial teams, so I wanted to let you know of my wish to step down from the shadow cabinet.

Frontline frontbench politics makes great demands on us all, but even greater demands on our families. They sacrifice a great deal of the time together that for others is what being a family means.

My family have accepted this for over a decade, and supported me throughout. But for now, I want to be able to give them more during the last couple of years we have left while our son is still with us at home. It is time for me to put them first.

This is a big decision as I have relished the last year as shadow health secretary, supported by a great shadow team. I am proud we've led opposition to the Tories’ NHS plans from the outset, built a wide coalition of criticism to back our Labour attack and got strong local campaigns off the ground, with Labour and our unions working closely together. I will continue to do whatever I can to support the shadow health team and help defend the NHS against the long term break-up and privatisation the health bill will lead to.

I appreciate the open, confident way you have led the shadow cabinet as a team, and the way you are trying to do the same with the wider Party. As you know, you’ve always had my full support as Leader, and you can rely on this in the future.

With best wishes.

John Healey

 

5 October 2011

Dear John,

Thank you for your letter telling me of your decision to stand down from the shadow cabinet.

You have been an exceptional colleague and friend to me, in particular over this past year.

I know this has been a difficult and very personal decision for you, but in both government and opposition you have served tirelessly and with distinction.

As Minister of State for Housing you launched the biggest affordable housing programme in twenty years; championing the need for more affordable housing to buy and rent and helping to support the construction sector and create jobs.

Before that, as Floods Recovery Minister you dealt sensitively and capably with a situation that caused misery for thousands of people across the country.

As shadow health secretary you have consistently made the argument that the Government’s plans for the NHS not only represent a broken promise, but a worse deal for patients and an unnecessary bureaucratic upheaval.

In holding David Cameron and Andrew Lansley to account you have not only spoken for the public in defending the NHS, but crucially you have built a broad coalition of support against the government’s plans amongst health professionals and bodies.

It is on this strong foundation that we will build in the coming months and years. And it is a record for which you should right be proud.

Finally, I wish you, Jackie and Alex all the best. I am grateful or your personal support and I look forward to working together in the future. As I said when we spoke last Friday, I hope you will continue to make an important contribution to our party and to our movement, including to a future Labour government.

Yours ever,

Ed Miliband

 

 

I know most people will scoff at the suggestion that a politician wants to spend more time with his family, but in John's case it's actually true. His son is in the sixth form and is coming upto a key period before he goes off to university. As the letter makes clear, John has not been around much at home in recent years, with many weekends away on ministerial duty. The Lansley Bill has also ensured he's been pretty busy in the past year.

Who knows if he'll be back in a couple of years. As they say in the bars of Westminster, never say never....

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