The following letter has been sent to Labour Party general secretary Jennie Formby.
It is with sincere regret that I tender my resignation from the Labour Party.
The party has been my political home since I left school and foster-care in the late 1980s — so that’s over a quarter of a century of membership.
When joining, I met some real mentors and like-minded people who believed in Britain; ordinary everyday patriotic people that believed our country could and would be better with Labour.
I campaigned for the party in my local working class community of Nuneaton; where I grew up; and as a student at the University of Bath, where I ran the Labour club.
Slogging away for the party has been hardwired into my DNA, making this decision to leave Labour an emotional and very difficult conclusion to reach.
After our landslide victory in 1997, it was a real privilege to be appointed as the national policy officer responsible for education and employment policy, working at the heart of campaign HQ in London.
In government, I was able to work closely with Labour ministers on shaping the New Deal for young people; the introduction of the first ever national minimum wage; and improving skills training at all levels in our society, including the re-birth of apprenticeships.
The values that drove these reforms have helped shape my professional life outside of politics where I have dedicated my whole career to improving post-compulsory education and training opportunities for people in the UK and overseas.
Until Monday 6 May this year, I served as a Labour councillor in Brighton and Hove, including a challenging period as the lead member for children’s and social services.
This role coincided with the election of Jeremy Corbyn and the transformation of the membership, driven by Momentum.
I’m afraid I can no longer remain a member of the party for three key reasons:
1. Anti-semitism — despite your best efforts since taking over the role as general secretary, the party has failed to adequately tackle this terrible disease that has infected parts of the current membership. The recent comments of the shadow justice secretary about Zionists being ‘the enemy of the peace in Israel’ (and the manner in which he initially tried to deny making them), is just another trope in a long line of sickening episodes. These are comments for which he has not been disciplined, making a mockery of the supposedly zero tolerance approach towards antisemitism.
2. Jeremy Corbyn — The leader has failed to get to grips with the different warring factions that now inhabit the party. While he may not personally engage in this virulent form of politics; many people around him and those on the hard left who he has personally attracted into the party certainly do. The public are not stupid. They know that such toxicity and this kind of intolerant behaviour could easily translate into government. The increasingly anti-American; anti-Israeli rhetoric coming from some members of the front bench and backbench MPs puts, in my view, the future national security of Britain and our major allies at risk.
3. Brexit — Two thirds of our representation in the House of Commons comes from Leave voting seats. Yet, our treatment of these voters by the majority of Remain Supporting Labour MPs/ MEPs has been despicable. Some of our candidates in these futile upcoming European elections have actively goaded 5 million Labour Leave voters, telling them that the party is no longer for them. Meanwhile, the party uses hollow phrases like it, “respects the outcome of the 2016 referendum result.” Of course, behind closed doors the party acts at every turn in the most duplicitous of ways; agitating with Brussels and big corporate interests to thwart Brexit all together. You only have to look at the party’s incoherent commitment to a future, permanent customs union with the EU, to see it has no interest in the United Kingdom becoming an independent self-governing nation again. Rather, the party of Keir Hardie and Clement Attlee, now seems content to allow unelected bureaucrats in Brussels to make our future trade policy — setting tariffs, taxes and regulations for whole swathes of our economy — without a real say in how these rules are made.
The recent local election results and the loss of Labour councils and councillors’ in our Northern heartlands demonstrates that the party is continuing to allow itself to be defined and run by the interests of metropolitan London elites; socialist conspiracy theorists; and by a predominantly student/ retired/ public sector profile of membership that resides mainly in our big university towns and cities.
Finally, I do not believe Labour can form a popular, united and sustainable majority in Parliament on its present course. We have possibly one of the most inept governments in our history, and yet the polls show the parties are neck and neck.
Sorry, I can no longer support the party.
Tom Bewick was a Labour member of Brighton and Hove City Council.