Nothing better demonstrates the gaping chasm that has opened up recently between those in the London-centric media bubble, and the reality of life away from the capital, than the decision of semi-detached Labour MP Frank Field to resign his party’s whip and sit as an Independent. And now that Field has hinted that he may precipitate a by-election in his Birkenhead constituency, that reality is poised to hit home with a vengeance.
While the Daily Mail proclaims this morning “Labour giant Frank Field has quit … the party he’s given his life to” (he hasn’t quit the party, but hey, who needs research or facts?), the realty is that his career has been one of serial failure. Moreover, if he’d “given his life” to the Labour Party, what was he doing working for the 2010 Coalition Government, or indeed, voting against the Labour whip to prop up Theresa May?
Well, now has come the opportunity for the holders of conventional Westminster wisdom to pit their reality against the one operative for the rest of the country: as the Guardian has reported, “Field has refused to rule out triggering a byelection after resigning the Labour whip … The veteran Birkenhead MP, who was due to hold talks on Friday with Labour’s chief whip, Nick Brown, told the Guardian he had yet to decide on his next step”.
But before all those obscenely overpaid and chronically under-researched pundits make their decision, nail their colours to the mast, and tell the world how the respected Field would romp home in a by-election contest and defeat all challengers, here’s a little reality check, just for those who can’t find the Wirral on the map.
Birkenhead may be across the river from Liverpool, but the deep-rooted dislike for certain sections of the media does not stop when the train departs from James Street and arrives at Hamilton Square. Seven of the 96 came from Birkenhead. That matters.
Because Frank Field has, as part of his being a “maverick”, been an enthusiastic past contributor to the Murdoch Sun, the paper that is banned from many of Merseyside’s news stands for its unrepentant smears of Liverpool FC and its fans in the period immediately following the Hillsborough stadium disaster.
Disrespecting the memory of the 96 is, for a politician on the Wirral, in the category of Totally Unforgivable Sins For Which There Is No Redemption. We saw this at the 2015 General Election when Tory I-Speak-Your-Weight machine Esther McVey lost her Wirral West seat - against the national trend - after her Twitter feed sent out several party political messages during the 25th anniversary Hillsborough memorial service.
Field has also used his Twitter feed to endorse the Sun’s piss-poor attempts at journalism. And that is in addition to the under-reported fact that his constituency party was on the brink of deselecting him. Frank Field would be trounced in a by-election contest.
So bring it on, Westminster know-alls. Take old Frank aside and persuade him to go for a by-election. Then watch him lose, and badly. Give us all a good laugh.
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