This has been publically posted on Facebook by Thangam Debbonaire, the Labour MP for Bristol West:
Dear everyone who has asked me what my problems are with Corbyn’s leadership,
Here is my experience.
Mr Corbyn appointed me and press released this without my knowledge or consent whilst I was in the middle of cancer treatment. He then sacked me the next day when he realized he had given away part of someone else’s role. But didn’t bother to tell me that either. By then my office had been besieged by press and the story was out that I was Shadow Minister. I decided to make the best of it and to serve. I worked on his Arts policy whilst I was still having treatment but in Bristol.
When I went back to Westminster, I discovered that he had sacked me but hadn’t told me and did not have any ideas for how I was supposed to explain it to Bristol West members or constituents. I was then faced with the choice of telling the truth – that he had made a series of errors, and inevitably thereby face a pile of criticism from his supporters – or say I had changed my mind about accepting the role – and thereby face a pile of criticism from.his supporters. And I knew the pile would arrive because I had seen how it went for others who had resigned. And because Corbyn supporters had already piled into me for disloyalty when I had had to miss votes for cancer treatment.
I then, contrary to the story he keeps giving on TV, found it near on impossible to get to talk to him about this problem.
Eventually I did get to meet him and he had nothing to say. No idea what to do. It took my boss Maria Eagle to explain to him that as he was leader he could re appoint me if that was what he wanted.
I then worked hard for him on his Arts policy, loyally didn’t go to the press about the above, got stuck in and worked. And yes, I enjoyed the role, it is one of my dream jobs in parliament and I believe I did Corbyn and the Labour Party a great service, as millions of people work in the arts and culture sectors and they valued being involved in policy-making. So it was never my intention to resign.
However, I kept hearing from other colleagues on the front bench just how difficult or impossible it was to get a decision out of him on important policy issues – the very thing Corbyn is supposed to be good on. I also noticed that the policy making process through the National Policy Forum was being slowed down by lack of decisions from Corbyn’s office.
But then he was missing in action during the EU referendum, including going on a week’s holiday three weeks before the day. I found that unforgivable. I had re-started campaigning in this campaign, phone-canvassing to conserve my energy, and kept hearing Labour voters saying ‘but your leader wants out, doesn’t he?’ His team didn’t send anyone to the EU Campaign meetings in Westminster and his lack of enthusiasm showed.
On the day after the referendum he asked for an early Brexit. My constituents want exactly the opposite and were telling me so in their hundreds, and voted 85% to remain.
That was the tipping point for me – it is not allowed to remain on the front bench whilst taking an opposing view to the leader in something so important.
I therefore had to resign.
The reason I then voted no confidence in him as leader is because I have no confidence in him as leader. See above. Plus I had found out from other front bench women how unwilling and unable Corbyn is to communicate with, listen to or work with anyone outside his narrow group.
Since then he has stated publicly that he isn’t prioritizing winning elections. How can I support a Labour leader who doesn’t want to form a Labour government above everything? When working people, the old, the young, the poor, the country, need a Labour government above everything?
I want a Labour government more than anything, because that is how we change the world and how we help millions of people, just as the 1997-2010 Labour government helped millions of people, my own family included.
I profoundly wished I never had to say all this publicly, but people keep asking, and I believe they have a right to know the truth about what Corbyn’s leadership is like.
We cannot win general elections with a leader who is unable and unwilling to learn how to communicate with, listen to and persuade people with whom he doesn’t already agree – we need to convince swing voters who voted Tory last year in Southern seats to vote Labour next time and we need Labour voters in Wales and the North to continue to vote Labour – without this we can’t win a general election.
All that is what’s at stake. Not having a Labour government again is unbearable. I will do anything I can to help to ensure this. It’s the constitutional duty of all Labour MPs, especially the leader, to try to secure a better life for working class people through parliamentary means. And that’s what I will continue to do.
I hope that’s clear.