COMMENT - Does Gloria De Piero really represent the people of Ashfield and Eastwood who elected her into the job?

Gloria De Piero MP
Gloria De Piero MP

This is a question we have asked a few of our MPs over the past few days - since 52 per cent of us voted to leave the European Union.

The people of Ashfield and Eastwood, the Nottinghamshire constituency which Gloria De Piero represents, voted in their droves to leave the EU, with just short of 70 per cent of the electorate voting BREXIT.

Gloria campaigned vigorously for Remain.

She was not on her own. Sir Alan Meale (Labour Mansfield) was on team Remain, as was Mark Spencer (Conservative Sherwood).

Their constituents clearly were not - with Mansfield and Sherwood constituents voting Leave by 70.9 per cent and 60 per cent respectively.

Only John Mann and Dennis Skinner were in agreement with their constituents, both joining the Leave camp in the run-up to Thursday’s referendum.

Mr Mann’s Bassetlaw constituency voted leave by 68 per cent, while 70.8 per cent of Mr Skinner’s Bolsover constituents who turned out to vote wanted out.

Around our area, the EU Referendum was about one issue and one issue only - immigration, and it does pose the question of how representative some of our elected officials are of the people they are here to speak for.

Writing for the Chad last week, Gloria said: “I have had many conversations with local people in recent weeks about their deeply felt anger and disillusionment with how things are in Britain today. The pressure low skilled immigration has put on wages, the terrible quality of local jobs, the lack of opportunities for young people to get on in life, the pressure on local services. I do not believe those things will go away because of this vote. We need a change in government for that.

“I don’t believe that any Tory Prime Minister will sort these problems. Because the Tories don’t understand communities like ours, and they don’t care if we suffer. That’s why I’m Labour – because we do care. And that’s why I will do everything in my power, to get Labour back into Government.”

Although based on Ms De Piero’s decision today to resign from the Labour Shadow Cabinet following the overnight sacking of Hilary Benn, it is also clear that she doesn’t feel that her own party leader Jeremy Corbyn is a suitable candidate either.

The former GMTV presenter has not yet responded to Chad’s request for a comment, although a national newspaper is reporting that in her resignation letter to Mr Corbyn, Ms De Piero seemingly wrote: “I do not believe you can deliver that victory at a general election, which may take place in a matter of months. I have been contacted by many of my members this weekend and it is clear that a good number of them share that view and have lost faith in your leadership.”

And there lies the problem - because a great many Labour members do think that Mr Corbyn is the right person to lead the party, and presumably that he is capable of delivering a Labour victory if an election is called.

I am personally undecided on Mr Corbyn’s potential, but that is not the point.

In the end, he was elected to the position of leader by a massive surge in grassroots support, and it is concerning that Ms De Piero appears to be flying in the face once again of what the people who re-elected her to Parliament for a second term last year actually want.

It has been said a lot of the communities where we live, that you could stick a red rosette on a donkey and it would get a parliamentary seat in a General Election.

But they have to be the right person. They have to have the trust and respect of the thousands of people who turn out to put a cross next to their name. They have to be fighting their corner, and for that they need to understand them.

Gloria is most definitely from the New Labour mould of Tony Blair - her support for Liz Kendall in the last leadership election would pin her colours firmly to that particular mast.

It is perhaps no surprise that the rank and file Labour vote have been deserting the party for years - first to the BNP and more recently to UKiP. Why? Because Labour no longer speaks to them.

It speaks to and for the middle ground - the cosmopolitan middle-classes who vote Labour as it appeals perhaps to their greater sense of social justice.

But in doing so it has left its grassroots behind - feeling lost, unheard, unrepresented.

Now Gloria is a good working-class girl, but she also forms part of the political elite - a university graduate, a former political journalist and up to her knees in the same liberal leftyism as the likes of Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham and Ed Miliband.

A party that had become toothless and pointless - forced ever further to the right to hang on to the illusive middle ground.

And to be honest, it really doesn’t matter whether Gloria feels that Corbyn is up to the job or not. Her constituents, at least those that are numbered amongst the party faithful, clearly do.

This Shadow Cabinet walk-out is nothing more than the Parliamentary Labour Party continuing to throw its toys out of the pram because they can’t grasp that they have lost touch with the rank and file.

Gloria and her colleagues who have quit today perhaps need to have a long hard think about exactly who they are representing, and start listening to them.