Labour MP Peter Kyle has expressed his frustration that despite being united on policy, Labour has struggled to defeat the government on a series of crucial votes.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Kyle said constituents "bombarded" him with messages after the welfare bill, urging Labour MPs to be united to defeat the Conservatives. He cited one particular email as an example: "If only you had united with other parties of the left you could have beaten the Tories."
Huge numbers of Labour MPs were criticised after the interim leadership told them to abstain against the welfare bill this summer.
But Kyle said that more recent votes – on the welfare bill, on cuts to tax credits, and on the trade union bill – had seen Labour defeated despite the party's MPs show of unity.
The Labour MP for Hove and Portslade also noted that in one instance, all Labour MPs were told to cancel previous engagements, including medical appointments, to vote. Despite this, the government won.
Labour cancelled my trip and that of other MP's – they even insisted that an MP rearrange a medical appointment – so that every single one of us were present today. It worked because we were indeed united. And in the chamber we were ferocious. We won the argument on the core aspects of the Bill - we had right on our side. The left united behind Labour: the SNP, Lib Dems, and our Green MP all voted with us. It was everything that some people have been crying out for from the official opposition.
And we lost, by 34 votes.
Back in September there was a whole week when we were equally ferocious, focussed, and right. On the Monday we had the Trade Union Bill (2nd Reading), which we lost. On the Wednesday was the vote on Tax Credit cuts, which we lost. And on Thursday was the Education and Adoption Bill (Third Reading), which we lost. I got home that week exhausted and angry, but luckily I had a good night's sleep because on the way to work the next day someone stopped me in the street and said 'I'm worried Labour aren't taking the fight to the Tories, if you just spoke up some more you'll get other MP's to vote with you and you'll easily beat them'. I knew I'd slept well because a smile remained on my face as I explained the harsh realities of what happens when you loose elections!
Kyle said he was writing the post to explain that party members needed to care about Labour's electability.
He wrote that the party could only win votes in parliament if one of two things happened. The first required Conservatives to go against their party's whip and vote with Labour, and the second required the party to become more electable and win the next election.
"The second way is the only reliable way of winning votes in the Commons, and that's by winning a general election," Kyle wrote. "It sounds so simple, but it's a fact, and that's what every one of us need to be thinking about right now if we care about not just stopping bad legislation, but making laws that are fair and empowering.
"So please don't frown when someone talks about 'electability' but instead talk about how we marry values with delivering positive change in a way that instills trust in those who we ask to vote for us – only then will the tyranny of losing votes end!"
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Siraj Datoo is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Siraj Datoo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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