Former Labour MP Bob Marshall-Andrews defects to the Liberal Democrats

Posted On: 
20th April 2017

Former Labour MP Bob Marshall-Andrews has defected to the Liberal Democrats, accusing his old party of “crass political ineptitude” under Jeremy Corbyn.

Bob Marshall-Andrews and Keith Vaz sitting in the House of Commons in 2007
PA Archive

The Times revealed that Mr Marshall-Andrews, who was MP for Medway from 1997 to 2010, had jumped ship in light of the Brexit campaign and Labour’s refusal to stand aside in the Richmond Park by-election last year.

“At present there is manifestly a huge vacuum on the centre-left represented in substantial part by the 48% of the electorate who rejected Brexit and the lies on which it was based,” Mr Marshall-Andrews told the newspaper.

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“To many, including me, there was a forlorn hope that a reformed and radical Labour party would rise to historic occasion. It has not and shows no real sign of doing so.”

When he was a Member of Parliament, he sat in the socialist grouping of Labour MPs alongside Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

He singled out last year’s by-election in west London - which saw the Conservatives and Ukip stand aside in order to avoid taking votes from Zac Goldsmith, while the Greens refused to put up a candidate to allow the Lib Dems a free run - as a key moment in his decision-making.

Labour had been urged not to contest the seat but Mr Corbyn insisted on standing a candidate.

“Faced with a common enemy on this historic issue there was an urgent requirement for a common strategy if not common sense. Labour rejected both and fielded a candidate,” said Mr Marshall-Andrews.

“For the centre left it was a victory which could easily have been demolished by a meaningless and meretricious Labour vote.

“For many, including me it was the final act of crass political ineptitude devoid of responsibility.”

He said he left Labour with a “heavy heart”, but added that the Liberal Democrats offered “some radical hope”.

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said the former MP was “coming over to the only party that is offering a credible opposition to a divisive Tory Brexit government”.

Current Labour MP Lucy Powell sought to play down the the defection.