Labour frontbencher tells veteran MP Margaret Hodge to 'consider her position' after backing pro-EU tactical voting

Posted On: 
19th May 2019

Labour party grandee Margaret Hodge should "consider her position" in the party after making remarks about pro-EU tactical voting, frontbencher Sue Hayman has said.

Margaret Hodge has been urged to "consider her position" in the Labour Party
Credit: 
PA

Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman said Labour members "deserved better" from the Barking MP after she urged voters to support pro-EU candidates in the European elections, even if it meant voting against her own party.

In a leaked recording from a think tank event last week, Dame Margaret was heard disagreeing with a panellist who urged party members to avoid voting tactically and instead support their local Labour candidates.

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According to The Sunday Times, Dame Margaret said: "I think taking whatever action you need, within your locality, that gives you the best likelihood of electing somebody who will be a pro-European MEP, I think is the way you should go, I really do."

"I know that's controversial but sometimes we allow the tribalism of politics to override the values and judgement we need to take on particular issues."

But speaking to the BBC's Piennar Politics, Ms Hayman said it was the duty of all Labour members to support the party's candidates in elections.

"Well, I thought it was very disappointing that Margaret should say such a thing," she said.

"If you are a member of a party, if you are the member of the Labour Party, you are there to support your candidates in elections.

"I just think our members and the candidates that are standing in the European elections deserve better than a Labour Member of Parliament saying people should vote for someone other than them."

'BETRAYAL OF TRUST'

Dame Margaret, who has repeatedly clashed with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn over his response to anti-semitism in the party, could now ace an disciplinary probe over the comments.

Under party rules, it is forbidden for any member to support someone standing against a Labour Party candidate.

Asked if the Labour MP should be expelled over the comments, Ms Hayman added: "That is going to be a matter for the Chief Whip, but I think it is very disappointing and she should consider her position within the Labour Party."

Responding to the comments, Ms Hodge told the paper she had probably "misspoke".

She added: "What I was trying to say was... in trying to understand why Labour party support is collapsing, which it is, I can understand why people are voting tactically. But I would never advocate voting against the party."

A Labour spokesperson said: "Support for Labour candidates is a non-negotiable part of being a party member. We expect more of our MPs and our members deserve better."

Tensions between Ms Hodge and senior party figures have simmered since she branded Mr Corbyn an "anti-semitic racist" during a furious Commons row last year.

Mr Corbyn later accused her of a "total betrayal of trust" after a secret recording of the pair at a private meeting on anti-semitism was leaked to the media.

But during the Progress event, the Jewish MP continued her criticism of the Labour leadership's "absolutely awful" efforts to tackle anti-semitism within its ranks.

"We now have got a culture of bullying, intimidation, misogny, homophobia and of course racism... far far worse than anything we've had in the 1980s," she said.

"I'm afraid the leadership's record on the fighting of anti-semitism is grotesquely awful, just absolutely awful."