Here is the wording of an email sent by Karin Smyth MP to Labour Party members in Bristol South, 27 June 2016
Dear Party member
As a Labour Party member, I am sure you have been following events of the past few days with some concern, and so I wanted to write to you to set out my thoughts about what has happened at the weekend, and about the Party’s future in the wake of the EU Referendum.
As you will probably have seen, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander MP is one of a number of Shadow Cabinet members to resign their positions. Having had the privilege to serve as her Parliamentary Private Secretary, I know Heidi is a politician of integrity and honesty, and that she will always work in the interests of the country and the Labour Party. She did not take this decision lightly.
I also know from health professionals in south Bristol and my former NHS colleagues that Heidi had quickly gained respect for her assured approach since she took up her position.
On a personal level, it was a pleasure to work with her and the whole Shadow Health Team, but of course our common task was tough because its chief aim was to protect the NHS from the devastation brought by the Tory government.
This vital work must go on, and is one of many reasons Bristol and the rest of the country needs a Labour government. The referendum outcome, and the inevitable move of the Tory Party to the right, makes this task more urgent.
Voters across Bristol have suffered from the Tories’ incompetence, and expect us to win for them in 2020. But the challenge to do so on a national scale is monumental. The comeback needed from Labour’s disastrous 2015 election requires a swing from the Conservatives to Labour never previously achieved. More than this, many of our current seats are held by very small majorities, and others are vulnerable to any loss of support since 2015.
Governing the country has to be the primary objective of the Labour Party and I am clear this can only be achieved with a leader who listens to, speaks with, and understands people in communities which most need our support.
Elections are the acid test for political leaders and when he became Labour leader I said that Jeremy Corbyn’s job was to deliver the best electoral results for the Party he and I represent. He has now led the Party into two nationwide electoral tests. In May’s local elections across the country the Party barely held its head above water. And in the EU Referendum, the Party failed to connect even with voters in scores of seats that have long been held by Labour.
People rightly recognise Jeremy is a decent, kind man, but being leader of the Labour Party – and of the country – is about much more.
It is about capacity, competence and judgement. It’s also about setting a vision for a better country, remaining wholly focused on achieving it, and convincing voters of an ability to deliver.
Of course the leader must have the confidence of MPs and Party members, but more than this the leader must show they are capable of gaining the support and confidence of voters across the country, and across a range of political opinion.
The leader of the Labour Party must have a clear plan for government, and have the credibility and competence to deliver it. It is increasingly evident to me that Jeremy Corbyn is not that leader, and that his position has become untenable.
Whilst I will not be serving as part of Labour’s front bench Health team, my overriding priorities to serve residents of Bristol South remain unchanged – for example the need to secure good quality local housing and healthcare. And my ongoing work to ensure there are appropriate local work and apprenticeship opportunities, particularly for younger people, becomes more pressing.
So in closing I assure you I will now redouble my efforts to ensure people in south Bristol remain well represented, day-in, day-out, as we look to move forward. From talking with people I meet on doorsteps and at my surgeries, and from the hundreds of emails and letters I receive each week, I know Bristol people need help and support in difficult times, perhaps now more than ever.
I also know Bristol needs a Labour government. It is my view we can only realistically deliver this with a new leader.
With best wishes
Karin Smyth MP
Labour MP for Bristol South