Angela Smith, the right-wing Labour MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, has received a no confidence vote from members of her CLP. This is why we need mandatory reselection.
On Friday 17th November, the Penistone and Stocksbridge CLP passed a motion of no confidence in their MP, Angela Smith. The motion passed by 27 to 20 at a CLP delegate meeting. It specifically calls for the Labour whip to be removed from Smith, such is the level of anger from local members at the antics of this Blairite MP.
The strongly worded motion gives several key reasons for members’ loss of confidence in the MP: her support for fracking; her opposition to water renationalisation; her constant undermining of the Corbyn leadership; and also her snubbing of the local party by refusing to attend the annual fundraising dinner it had organised in February.
Angela Smith has been vocal in her opposition to water renationalisation and is in fact linked to the private water companies lobby. As recently as September she was the main guest at an exclusive dinner organised by British Water, the organisation of the private water companies, “hosted in a private dining space at Le Pont de La Tour, a luxurious riverside destination with iconic views”.
“By attending this dinner, guests will be given the opportunity to meet and discuss our industry with one of the UK’s most active and enthusiastic water industry politicians,” said the invitation. “You will have the chance to join the conversations and quiz Angela about the Labour Party’s policy on the water industry and the environment, her views on re-nationalisation and her role in the All Party Parliamentary Water Group.“
Her position on this issue should come as no surprise as she has vested interests in the water industry. An article in the Morning Star explained how:
“Ms Smith’s register of interests for 2016 show that she and her husband, whom she employs as her senior parliamentary researcher, were treated to football matches and dinner three times by Whitehouse Construction, a subcontractor to Anglian Water.”
If one looks at Angela Smith’s voting record in Parliament, a clear picture emerges of a war-mongering right-wing Labour MP. She voted for military intervention in Syria, for the bombing of Libya, and against an investigation into the war in Iraq.
Of course, such an MP would also go out of her way to undermine the Corbyn leadership in the Labour Party. Smith has openly spoken against the democratically-elected leader in the right-wing media. “Why don’t you just go?”, she said to Corbyn in February 2017 in one of her many interventions.
She reacted angrily at losing the confidence of her own constituency, blaming “a cabal of hard-left members”. A delegate meeting passing a motion 27 to 20 suggests that the anger against the right-wing Labour MP is far more widespread, however.
Penistone and Stockbridge CLP was considered to be “centrist”. But clearly even here members have had enough of arrogant, backstabbing Blairite MPs who defend the interests of big business instead of those of working people.
This latest motion of no confidence highlights the need to introduce democratic procedures to make MPs accountable to members. And it demonstrates why right-wing Labour MPs are so afraid of any idea of mandatory reselection.