Comment Writer Lisa McGrady argues that MPs like Kate Hoey and Frank Field must do more to regain the trust of their constituents
Just when politics seems to have taken a break for the summer, it appears the Labour Party have once again made headlines. Frank Field and Kate Hoey (amongst a number of other Labour MPs) voted on the recent EU Bill with the Conservative government. This saw the hopes of a government defeat and an early general election fall. As such, the two Labour MPs now could face deselection by their Labour Party branches after votes of no confidence were held against them.
In total, four Labour MPs voted with the government, but it is the pro-Leave MPs Hoey and Field that have made headlines, in light of their constituencies’ direct responses. Naturally, with Birkenhead and Vauxhall being two of the poorest constituencies in the country, one might question how their votes have helped their constituents. After all, experts claim each household will suffer under a hard Brexit. Confused? I think we all are.
As a result, there has been no shortage of backlash in response to their actions. Admittedly this has not come as a surprise to some, with Stephen Bush suggesting this is ‘the latest in a long line of rows.’
But practically, let’s look at the facts. The confident Field and Hoey are used to being the centre of discussion. They are two of the most experienced MPs, and therefore carry a vast wealth of political expertise. Primarily, what we see with Frank Field is a tendency to go against the desired political tide. He was controversially one of the 36 MPs who nominated Jeremy Corbyn to lead the Labour Party. For a man of centre-left principle, this indeed caused headlines.
There is no denying that Field’s activity in the Work and Pensions Select Committee has granted him a commendable level of appreciation from the public, through his witty responses to Philip Green. Moreover, his involvement in the foodbank appeal has also gained him a level of noticeable support, nationally. But what cannot go unnoticed is his apparent lack of connection between constituency and national politics. It is as if the connection between the two has become fragmented. He is on one hand a party politician questioning business leaders on financial issues, and on another an MP who is rarely in the constituency.
Similarly, this is the case with Hoey. Since the vote of no confidence, she has suggested that the views of her local Labour Party members will not phase her moving forwards. However, I think this is a massive failing.
In order for a politician to move forwards, surely they must learn from the past. I think this is a selfish response from Hoey, as I believe people would have more respect for her politics if she were to acknowledge why her local party members felt as they did. And at the end of the day, is that not what an MP’s job is about?
When experts declare Brexit will make households worse off, it seems hard to fathom how these two MPs are voting in the way that they are. Is this confidence or selfishness at its finest? I’m unsure on this one.
In the current climate, Brexit seems to be a lacking a clear direction. Many are questioning how can a no deal be the right solution? Does this not create uncertainty for constituents? One thing is for sure and that is these two MPs are not short of confidence but are now perhaps lacking support. They are both losing the ability to retain the confidence of their local Labour Party members, something which will not hold them in good stead come the next General Election – that is if they are able to stand again.