Labour MPs appear divided over signing a ‘loyalty pledge’ amid rumours of a breakaway party, unease with Brexit and dissatisfaction with the party’s attempts to tackle anti-Semitism.
One member of parliament said the pledge urging them to commit to “work for the achievement of a Labour led government under whatever leadership members elect” was a “little bit ridiculous”.
Rumours of a new standalone party have swirled around Westminster in recent weeks, with some MPs unhappy with Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on Brexit, and in particular a lack of enthusiasm for a second referendum.
Splits have also emerged over the party dealing with hatred towards Jewish people as it was this week disclosed it had received 673 allegations of anti-Semitism by its members over the past 10 months, leading to 12 individuals being expelled.
Former Labour vice chairman and ex-MP Michael Dugher this weekend said he is intending to leave the party, saying he now regards it as “institutionally anti-Semitic”.
A number of Labour MPs, including shadow chancellor John McDonnell and shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey and shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, have tweeted the pledge.
It states: “I pledge to work for the achievement of a Labour led Government under whatever leadership members elect. And I accept a Labour led government is infinitely better than any other election outcome.”
Midlothian MP Danielle Rowley retweeted the pledge with the comment: “Well, of course! A Labour Government, changing lives for the better is what we are here for.” Meanwhile, Glasgow North MP Paul Sweeney said: “I fully agree.”
But other MPs have signalled their years of membership to the party already represent a commitment.
Ian Murray, MP for Edinburgh South and former shadow Scottish secretary, said instead of trying to get politicians to back the commitment, the party’s leadership should be focused on trying to resolve the current Brexit stalemate.
Have filed my ‘loyalty pledge’ 🚮. Here’s the one I signed up to twenty years ago and work every day believing in and fighting for: 🌹 pic.twitter.com/CNcZ60AxiN
— Anna Turley MP (@annaturley) February 17, 2019
My pledge is my membership card which I still hold with pride almost 30 years after I joined (I’ve never left). Even through tough times, I’ve been out there rain or shine campaigning for a Labour Government & labour councils. (It’s been a bit like being a City fan 😉)
— Lucy Powell MP (@LucyMPowell) February 16, 2019
Murray, who quit Labour’s front bench team after Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader, described the pledge as being a “little bit ridiculous”.
The MP told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland programme his loyalty to the party “should never be in question”.
He stated: “My pledge is every single weekend when I am out knocking on doors, delivering leaflets, staffing street stalls and doing my advice sessions with my constituents, that is my pledge to the Labour Party.
“I think these kind of pledge things are a little bit ridiculous, in my view.
“I won’t be signing it for a number of reasons, firstly because I think it is unnecessary and secondly it asks for a Labour led government – I think we need a Labour majority government.”
Murray, the only Scottish Labour MP to hold on to his constituency when the SNP won all but three seats north of the border in the 2015 Westminster election, added: “I just don’t think we should be signing these pledges, we should be getting on with the task of trying to resolve this Brexit issue, which is number one on the agenda at the moment.”