Ian Murray: Leadership of our party has pushed too many people to the brink

TODAY the Labour Party has lost the talent and expertise of seven of its best MPs whom I am proud to call friends.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with MP Ian Murray. Picture: John Devlin

These MPs represent everything the Labour Party should stand for and are beyond brave to have taken the decision to leave.

They have fought for progressive values; they have fought to protect jobs in their communities put at risk by Brexit; and they have fought against the evils of racism. They are popular with their constituents.

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It is a sad day for our politics when such hard-working and dedicated politicians have been forced to leave the Labour Party.

But I fear we are becoming a Labour Party in name only with intolerance towards anyone who happens to disagree, alongside a bullying culture by some, who have no real history in the party, to pressure MPs to leave.

Communities across the United Kingdom desperately need a Labour Party that holds the values we have always held dear: that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone.

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The current Labour leadership is breaking the broad church that this party once built its electoral success upon – a broad church which delivered Labour governments that put the national interest first, lifted millions and millions of people of all ages out of poverty, and gave hope and opportunity to all.

It is now a party where people don’t all share the same values, with some at the very top content to ignore the views of the membership, appear to be facilitating Brexit, and condemn tens of thousands of workers in the process.

It is now a movement where a powerful trade union official like Len McCluskey is willing to ignore the plight of the workers he represents by standing in the way of a public vote on Brexit despite it being party policy.

The leadership of our party has pushed too many people to the brink, and today the dam burst.

The challenge now is for Jeremy Corbyn to listen and learn - and decide if he wants to keep the Labour Party and movement together.

That means listening to members who are demanding we give people the opportunity to remain in the EU through a public vote, and learning from the distressing experiences of people like Luciana Berger so that such vile hatred and intolerance can never again be found in our movement.

We have to change the culture of the party so we can change the country.

By writing this today I’m sure I’ll be told by the very people who have forced out my colleagues that I should leave the party. Such intolerance is the very reason why seven Labour MPs have left.

But if we work together, our party can be the greatest vehicle for change in this country. Jeremy Corbyn must decide if he wants to lead a party for the many or continue to restrict it to a party of the few.

Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South