Sat, 3 December 2022

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John Woodcock quits Labour party with outspoken attack on Jeremy Corbyn

John Woodcock quits Labour party with outspoken attack on Jeremy Corbyn
4 min read

Suspended MP John Woodcock has dramatically quit the Labour party, telling Jeremy Corbyn it has been "taken over at nearly every level by the hard left".

The backbencher also claimed an investigation into allegations he behaved inappropriately towards a female aide had been "manipulated for factional purposes" given his previous criticisms of the Labour leader.

Mr Woodcock withdrew from the disciplinary process, which began in April, last month, calling for an "appropriately qualified, independent arbiter" to oversee the inquiry.

Announcing his decision to quit today, the MP took aim at Mr Corbyn, saying: "The party for which I have campaigned since I was a boy is no longer the broad church it has always historically been. Anti-Semitism is being tolerated and Labour has been taken over at nearly every level by the hard left, far beyond the dominance they achieved at the height of 1980s militancy."

He added: "There is little chance of returing the Labour party to the inclusive, mainstream electoral force my constituents desperately need. In these circumstances, I can no longer justify engaging in a rigged process to be re-admitted to it."

Outlining a string of allegations against the Labour leadership, Mr Woodcock claimed that the investigation against him had been tainted by politics, and said some in the party were "determined to prevent me re-standing as a Labour candidate" because of his views. Party sources have denied those claims.



The MP wrote: "As you know, Labour's new general secretary, who has previously said she wanted to 'ditch Blairites', overturned a previous ruling of a party disciplinary panel and suspended me after someone placed confidential details of my disciplinary case in two Sunday newspapers.

"This followed a newspaper report that the Labour leadership was looking for a reason to suspend me because of my opposition to your leadership.

"Emails that have since been relased to me through data laws reveal that senior party figures have long been determined to prevent me re-standing as a Labour candidate because of my views on your leadership. It was noted in one such email that suspending me for a reason unrelated to those views would enable me to be barred from re-selection without risking legal challenge.

"Its is not credible to expect a fair hearing in these circumstances. I strongly deny the charge made against me but am committed to the complaint being thoroughly and fairly investigated. I will now seek to refer myself to an independent process so the case can be properly heard. I hope you will listen to the growing calls from the Labour Too campaign and others to do the same for all cases."

Mr Woodcock - who PoliticsHome rerevealed in March was considering quitting Labour - said he remained "proud" of his Parliamentary record, and pledged to "continue to give my all to the people of Barrow and Furness as an independent MP on the opposition benches".

He added: "My loyalty to them always comes first so I will work with the government when it is trying to do the right thing, and will also work with the many good colleagues who are still trying to do their best in Labour."

Responding to the resignation, a Labour spokesperson said: "Jeremy thanks John for his service to the Labour Party."

Party sources meanwhile pushed back at Mr Woodcock's characterisation of the disciplinary process against him as "rigged", saying there had been "no political involvement" in the probe into the MP's conduct.

They also said his decision to quit meant that his accuser's allegations could no longer be investigated by the party.

Meanwhile Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union and a powerful ally of Mr Corbyn, dismissed Mr Woodcock's resignation as "no big deal".

"He resigned from Labour's values a long time ago," the union chief said.



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