Laura Pidcock resigns from Labour NEC citing “hostile territory for socialists”

Sienna Rodgers
© Twitter/@LauraPidcockMP

Laura Pidcock, the former Labour MP for North West Durham, has resigned today from the party’s national executive committee, citing a “hostile territory for socialists” under Keir Starmer’s leadership.

Reacting to the news, a Labour spokesperson said: “We thank Laura for her service and respect her decision.”

Current Labour Party rules mean no by-election is held to determine who replaces Pidcock on the national ruling body. Instead, the 2020 contest will be re-run without Pidcock and without issuing new ballots.

LabourList understands that this is likely to be Ann Henderson, who was also a Labour left candidate in 2020, but the Labour Party has not yet confirmed that this is the case.

Pidcock explained in a statement announcing her resignation that her “deep unease” in the party was compounded by “the cheering of a Tory MP crossing the floor in the House of Commons”.

Christian Wakeford, the MP for Bury South who left the Conservatives to join the Labour Party last week, “has voted against everything we believe in”, Pidcock added.

The ex-MP also described the current Labour leadership as “devoid of ideas” and “lacking vision”, saying: “I can’t and won’t negotiate with these people anymore.”

The resignation closely follows NEC votes on Tuesday that saw two Labour left motions – on restoring the whip to Jeremy Corbyn and on scrapping the retroactive application of the rule proscribing certain groups – rejected.

“I have sadly come to the conclusion that I can’t serve on the NEC any longer,” Pidcock said. “I can’t have these decisions, which do so much damage to the membership, made in my name.”

If Henderson replaces Pidcock, the factional balance of Labour’s ruling body – now heavily in Starmer’s favour – is unchanged, as Henderson ran on the same ‘Grassroots Voice’ slate in 2020.

All nine spots for local party representatives on the NEC are up for election this year. Pro-Starmer group Labour to Win has unveiled its slate of five, while the Momentum-backed slate is expected in early February.

Below is the full text of Laura Pidcock’s resignation statement.

I am today resigning from the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party.

I know this will disappoint some colleagues (and no doubt delight some others!). However, I am resigning because of what I see as an irreconcilable difference between the actions of the Labour Party as it stands and the principles that underpin the way I have been taught to treat people and my idea of what a political organisation should be for.

I think every life is precious. I also think our energies are finite. The decision to dedicate that valuable time to a political cause often comes with personal and professional risk.

I promised fellow activists and friends that I would stand for the NEC. I did this as a bridge from Corbynism to what we expected to be the next stage. We weren’t to know exactly how Keir Starmer would handle matters within the party. At that stage, it was hypothetical. What has ensued is a barrage of top-down changes which is making it hostile territory for socialists, from those of us on the NEC, to those in CLPs across the country.

Despite that hostility, I have done the representative role on the NEC to the very best of my ability, spent hundreds of hours organising to protect both members and the policy legacy you all fought so hard for. I have spent so many hours organising with colleagues to try to win piecemeal amendments to plans that have undermined democracy in the party and the freedom with which members are able to express themselves. In addition, with the right of the party having a strong, inbuilt voting majority, we are repeatedly defeated when it comes to a vote.

This is on top of a full-time job which I love, being a mam to a beautiful little boy and taking on the role of National Secretary of the People’s Assembly, developing, alongside many others, exciting plans to build the broadest possible coalition against the government, where there is an atmosphere of absolute unity in opposition to Conservative destruction.

To be really honest, the cheering of a Tory MP crossing the floor in the House of Commons, an MP who has voted against everything we believe in, crystallised the deep unease. What I immediately felt was pain for all of those who are forced to use food banks, all of those who are going through the punitive ‘social security’ system, for all of the amazing activists protesting against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, including Gypsy and Traveller people, who are also at the heart of resisting the racism in this legislation — some of the many reasons why this whooping by elected representatives of my own party, on that day, was so inappropriate and jarring for so many.

What I have witnessed on the NEC has been immensely frustrating. This leadership is devoid of ideas, lacking vision. I can’t and won’t negotiate with these people anymore. The summit of their ideas are just small tweaks to the status quo. They challenge virtually nothing, but are noticeably determined when it comes to rule changes that alienate the left. They have demoralised thousands of people who were awakened to politics for the first in their life. I am sure, this is part of their larger strategy.

When there is so much devastation caused by this government and the economic system we live under, when poverty is endemic, when people are hungry, when finance capital is tightening its grip on the NHS, with a government entrenching the hostile environment, and when the ravages of climate decay are obvious for all to see, we cannot go on, giving our energy to people who want to block fundamental, positive change.

I think we also need to be honest about some of our mistakes on the left. I know circumstances have been really difficult and many people have endured personal attacks, so saying that mistakes have been made is not about blaming the membership – far from it. I have always believed that the only really effective response to these attacks, on people’s values and reputations, is from the mass membership, where we fight transparently and collectively, where we demonstrate our power.

This is also true for the position over the reinstatement of the whip to Jeremy Corbyn. Perhaps with the best of intentions, some people seem to think that we can negotiate our way to justice by appealing to the right of the party to do the right thing. That has never worked and certainly will not work in the current circumstances.

I have sadly come to the conclusion that I can’t serve on the NEC any longer. I am really sorry if this disappoints comrades and people feel let down especially those members who went out of their way to vote for me, but there is too much to be done and I can’t have these decisions, which do so much damage to the membership, made in my name. I have never viewed politics and political participation as a game of chess. I don’t think politics is complicated and I think it is ok to act according to your feelings and passion. When I don’t feel I am making a difference, I want to put my energy elsewhere and that is what I’m choosing to do.

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