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Pensions committee chair Frank Field quits Labour party

Work and pensions select committee chairman and veteran Birkenhead MP Frank Field has decided to quit Labour over the party’s failure to act on anti-Semitism and bullying allegations.

The MP, who has been instrumental in inquiries into defined benefit pension transfers, the collapse of BHS and Carillion, the FCA’s approach to Sipp supervision, and the government’s cold-calling ban, has given up the Labour whip and will now sit as an independent.

The cross-party politicians he leads on the committee are currently investigating pension costs and transparency, and will begin hearing oral evidence next week.

In a letter to opposition chief whip Nick Brown, Field accuses the Labour leadership of “becoming a force for anti-Semitism in British politics”.

He writes: “The leadership is doing nothing substantive to address this erosion of our core values. It saddens me to say that we are increasingly seen as a racist party. This issue alone compels me to resign the whip.”

Field also cites a “culture of intolerance, nastiness, and intimidation” in the party, and criticises the leadership for failing to act on bullying allegations in constituency branches.

Field’s letter, as published by Sky News

He will continue to be a member of the Labour party, but represent Birkenhead as an independent MP.

The work and pensions committee confirmed that Field is not forced to leave his position on the committee because he has resigned the whip.

Former pensions minister and Royal London policy director Steve Webb says: “It is vitally important that Frank Field’s decision to resign the Labour whip does not affect his role as chair of the work and pensions committee.

“Although we do not see eye to eye on every issue, there is no doubt that he is one of the most knowledgeable MPs in parliament when it comes to pensions.  In particular, I am sure that his pressure on the former owner of BHS played an important part in ensuring that BHS pensioners got a better outcome. I hope that MPs of all parties will support Frank Field in retaining this key role”

Hargreaves Lansdown head of retirement policy Tom McPhail also backed Field to stay.

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Comments

There are 13 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I may not agree with Mr Field on many topics, but one thing I think we can all agree on is that he is a rarity in Parliament. Honest and straight talking. The man certainly has integrity. Pity there are so few of his kind.

    • Hi Harry
      Frank Field has done some good things, I agree, and I also disagree with him on many issues (Brexit for example). You will notice I have had a right go at Justin, about his article, but fair play to Money Marketing/Justin for posting my comments.

      I get so angry about this issue because I have never, ever, heard a single anti-semitic comment among any Labour members I have met, in the south east (and that’s quite a few) and I don’t like the idea of good people, Jewish or otherwise, being alarmed by this sort of talk.
      Sorry to go on but you are the only other person that has posted on this article.

  2. Justin, your article is almost entirely political, lacks balance and, therefore, is biased, as it states there is no change to Field’s role on the work and pensions committee. Also, although Field gives several reasons for his resignation of the whip, that does not mean they are the ACTUAL reasons, as YOU have stated in your first paragraph.

    Are you aware that Field was about to be deselected by HIS OWN local Labour Party after voting to prop up the Tory government? His reason for resigning the whip is, quite possibly, more to do with that; effectively jumping before being pushed.

    In 2008 a Church of England bishop said that Frank field was “the new Enoch Powell” due his comments and views on asylum seekers and immigration. He is not some cuddly uncle and can be just as disingenuous as many other politicians.

    Your article is of the type that I have never read in Money Marketing before, and smacks of jumping on the ridiculous ‘Labour is anti-semitic’ bandwagon (there is probably a smaller percentage of anti-semites in the, over half a million members, Labour party than in the UK population as a whole).

    While you are at your newly changed role, to a political journalist, can you tell me what your views are on Jacob Rees Mogg’s connections with neo-nazis, Justin? I take it you have seen the pictures of him having dinner with them (Traditional Britain Group) in 2013 (read up on that pleasant organisation).

    I hope never to see such abuse of your platform again Justin.

    • Well said Patrick,most of his writings are ‘half articles’ and what witty pseudonym!Clown!

    • Oh Patrick!

      I too am in the South East and I can assure you that antisemitism within Labour ranks is rife. The reports are not fairy stories. (What next? Holocaust denial?)

      As far as Corbyn is concerned – if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck and swims like a duck, then it must be a duck.

      He is an unconstructed dimwit and and there is no doubt that not only he but his family (brother and son) are also proven anti-semites. That he has failed to act effectively is also beyond doubt. Ask many of his own MPs.

      Personally I don’t get that worked up about it, but then I guess I have a thicker skin than most and anyway I do think that racist activity from any party is very unbecoming.

      • Oh Harry…….

        Sorry to have offended you (and you must know that was not my intention) but to say I am disappointed by your reply, which is very extreme considering you don’t get too worked up about the issue, would be putting it mildly. Are you really equating what I said with Holocaust denial? If so I think that is one of the most horrible things I would ever have been accused of. But, then again, you have no personal experience of knowing me Harry.

        On the point of anti-semitism in Labour I guess you DO have personal experience and are a Labour party member that regularly attends meetings, so will have first hand accounts of anti-semitism in the ranks. Or are you speaking of purported members, rather than actual members, which is very different. If you do know of provable anti-semitic behaviour you should report it to the party, as it is unacceptable.

        We had the Jewish Voice for Labour at a meeting, not too long ago (strange we invited them as we are so hostile) and they were very disparaging of reports that anti-semitism is rife (in the party, not the country at large). They also had an interesting angle on why the party should have some reservations about the IHRA definition. As, apparently, does US attorney Kenneth Stern, who drafted it.

        As for Corbyn you seem to be forgetting his history of standing up for all oppressed minorities, in favour of the recent media hysteria and the many MPs that criticise him have always been anti Corbyn Tory lite. It’s the same old bunch, time and again. Perhaps you could look at what Noam Chomsky has to say about Corbyn.

        Perhaps we had better leave it there, unless MM are happy to let us continue with a pure ‘politics and racism’ page. I, generally, agree with lots of your posts on the MM pages, Harry, as you may have noticed, and would be happy to revert to that, less volatile, format for discussions.

    • Patrick
      You state that the main reason Frank has resigned is that he is facing deselection because he has voted with the Government 3 times recently. Given that your beloved leader I think has voted against the party whip and with previous Tory Governments a mere 468 times in his career (so it was reported over the weekend) that means he only has another 465 votes to go to catch up!
      I’m sorry, but this Labour Party is totally toxic and should be unsupportable by any right-minded democrat.

      • Kevin
        Please don’t misquote me. I did not state that Frank Field’s resignation of the whip is because he is facing deselection. I said “His reason for resigning the whip is, quite possibly, more to do with that”. That is quite different and the point I was making was the inaccuracy, and implied certainty, of ‘Justin Case’s’ statement.

        Also I gave no statement on whether “Frank”, as you affectionately call him, was right or wrong to vote with the government, did I?

        If you can’t read a, relatively, short comment without misunderstanding the main points, and misquoting me, then perhaps you deserve the shambles of a government we have, at present; Rees Mogg, Boris Johnson and Nadine (A ugandan born British citizen shouldn’t criticise the royal wedding) Dorries included. If you are happy with the bunch we’ve got and you think that makes you “right minded” then good luck to you old son.

  3. Frank Field says in his letter he is remaining in the Labour Party. He is resigning the whip. Please report accurately!

  4. Frank Field was once a respected MP, but his recent comments on various issues such as pensions and the capping of advice fees, now suggest he is losing control of his factualities. So before he is allowed to make any further ridiculous statements about topics on which he is not even remotely qualified, this may be a good time for him to take his place in the retirement home for MPs, more commonly known as the House of Lords

  5. To be frank (excuse the pun)

    I think we are all getting a bit fed up with politicians and MPs just throwing their teddies out of the pram and resigning, for what it seems things aren’t going their way or they just have a personal gripe ?

    Yes its great to have a stance and standing up for your (and the people who voted for you) beliefs and principles ….. but come on, having a hissy fit and walking away is hardly the solution ?

    The walls are very thick in parliament and the screams of frustration from outside them will never be heard !

    • I’d have thought you would be quite interested, DH, given your rebellious avatar (which I like). But I agree it all gets a bit much at times.

      I also agree that walking away, when things could be sorted out internally, given time, is not usually the right way to go about things. I better not go to far into that though.

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