Constituency Labour Party Votes of No Confidence, Put Simply

By Campaign Agent Matthew Waterfield

On 30 August, Frank Field resigned the Labour whip, primarily citing the widespread anti-Semitism within the party as his reason for resigning. However, it is believed that a no confidence vote in him by his local Constituency Labour Party (CLP) was also an important factor in his decision to resign, giving rise to the question – what is a CLP vote of no confidence?

The simple answer is that they are symbolic votes with no wider significance. But although this is true, a vote of no confidence in an MP by their local party can be seen as a precursor to an attempt to deselect them. For example, although the vote of no confidence in Field was not part of any formal deselection process, many of his opponents openly admitted that they wanted to deselect him.

Field is not the only Labour MP to face a vote of no confidence either – each of the four Labour MPs who sided with the government on a key Brexit vote a few weeks earlier have now been subject to these votes. Out of them, two – John Mann and Graham Stringer – won their votes, and two – Field and Kate Hoey – lost.

Since them, two more Labour MPs have faced – and lost – votes of no confidence. These are Joan Ryan, the chair of Labour Friends of Israel, and Gavin Shuker, a long time Corbyn critic.

Both have pointed out that the votes of no confidence in them have no practical impact and that they won’t be resigning. However, if these votes signal the start of reselection processes, attitudes among the MPs targeted may change. At the very least, it seems unlikely that Frank Field will be the only Labour MP to resign following a vote of no confidence.

Sources and Further Reading

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