The UK’s Opposition Labour party was on Friday rocked by the resignation of one of its popular MPs Tristram Hunt, who lamented the “swing away” from mainstream social democratic and socialist parties in countries like India, Greece and America. Hunt stepped down to take charge of the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum in London, one of the world’s greatest museums.
In his resignation letter, the left-leaning Member of Parliament (MP) from Stoke-on-Trent in England’s West Midlands region lamented the “swing away” from mainstream social democratic and socialist parties in countries like India. The letter reads, “Visiting schools and colleges in Stoke and across the country… highlighted the harrowing effects of poverty and inequality upon social mobility.
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“The frustration, of course, came with the inability to address those factors and implement our (Labour) policy programme following our defeat in 2015 and more broadly about how the Labour Party should respond to the social, cultural and economic forces which have rocked mainstream social democratic and socialist parties from India to Greece to America”.
While he has been critical of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour party leader and the direction in which he has taken the party, Hunt insisted his departure was not intended to “rock the boat”. “There were very few jobs that would have convinced me to stand down as MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, but the post of Director of the Victoria & Albert (V&A), the world’s greatest museum of art, design and performance, is just that. It brings together all my lifetime passions of education, historical scholarship, meshing past with present and public engagement,” he said in the letter.
He has previously served as education secretary in the Labour shadow cabinet and the former TV historian was elected to represent Stoke-on-Trent in 2010 and was re-elected in 2015 with a majority of 5,179 votes. The far-right, anti-immigrant UK Independence Party (UKIP) came second, making a by-election extremely tough for Labour. Hunt had refused to serve in the shadow cabinet following Corbyn’s leadership victory in September 2015.
He argued that the Labour leader should have done more to persuade its voters to back the ‘Remain’ campaign during last year’s EU referendum. The V&A welcomed Hunt’s appointment, which would bring “widespread expertise” to the world-famous museum. Chairman Nicholas Coleridge said, “He has a highly compelling mixture of experience across public life, the arts, history, education and academia, and knows our collections well from his writing and broadcasting”. Hunt’s departure from politics will trigger a by-election in his constituency, the results of which will inevitably be seen as a verdict on Corbyn’s leadership of the party.