Today, a former Labour MP has resigned from the party, and few have noticed. So it is only fair that Zelo Street mark the occasion on which the former member for Glasgow Cathcart and, later, Glasgow South, Tom Harris, bid what he called an emotional farewell to Labour. “It was a very personal decision. The reason I didn’t press release of Tweet about it, is it does feel a bit like bereavement. It’s been a part of my identity for a long time. Of course I’m emotional” he told BBC Radio Scotland, but very privately, you understand.
His departure will come as no surprise to those who have seen Harris’ rightward drift - not to mention his being in a very small minority indeed in backing the Leave side in the EU referendum (he has now joined the right-wingers at Brexit Central). Also, we have been here before: the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog were taunting Harris about leaving three years ago.
“Former minister Tom Harris has said ‘goodbye’ to Labour” they told, before adding “Harris tells Kevin Schofield: ‘not leaving the party – yet’. Clearly he was over-tired when he posted the statement on Facebook at 11pm last night” As Zelo Street regulars will know, Staines knows all about making late night decisions that come back to bite him.
And while Herald Scotland has been fairly restrained on the resignation, telling “A vocal critic of Jeremy Corbyn, Mr Harris sent his resignation letter to Scottish Labour HQ last week after deciding the party was ‘not the place for me anymore’ … [he] acknowledged he had ‘not exactly been a shrinking violet’ about the current leader”, one part of Harris’ CV has been missed by the press. But not by Sol Hughes.
As Hughes has pointed out, “Tom Harris the only Labour figure to praise the Taxpayers Alliance (From the TPA's own annual report) . Says we owe the Taxpayers Alliance a ‘debt of gratitude’”. One hates to come over all Neil Kinnock, but here we have a former Labour MP - a former Labour MP - endorsing the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance.
By doing so, Tom Harris has aligned himself with a group which is diametrically opposed to the best-known Labour Party achievements. The TPA would have the NHS abolished in favour of “competition”, for which read a US-style healthcare system. It has advocated for abolition of the national wage. By spreading misinformation about speed cameras, it would endanger the lives of road users. It advocates for benefit cuts.
The TPA has indicated that it would support cuts to teachers’ pay. The group either declines to say who funds it - not even saying what country the money comes from - or dishonestly claims that their income is from thousands of small donations from their grassroots support - except the TPA has no grassroots.
This group is not about value for money. It is about demonising Government, any kind of Government, and indeed anything marked “Public”. This former Labour MP is there cheering it on. And then claiming to be all emotional about it.
Yes, there goes Tom Harris. On his way … out.
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