Greens and Labour call time on Somerset MP
In a joint statement today, the Green and Labour Parties have called on David Warburton to resign. Mr Warburton is the sitting MP for the Somerton & Frome constituency. Martin Dimery (the Green Party candidate for Somerton & Frome) and Sean Dromgoole (the Labour Party candidate) say they are calling time on their MP.
This follows a vote on a resolution of no confidence in the MP at Frome Town Council last week. The resolution was passed unanimously.
This is the text of the resolution that the council approved: “The Town Council very rarely comments on national matters, or even issues outside of Frome but we have grown increasingly concerned about the lack of representation from our MP, David Warburton. We have therefore decided to make this exception. The role of an MP is to represent the interests and concerns of their constituents in the House of Commons. Somerton and Frome’s current MP, David Warburton, has not voted in parliament for over 10 months and has not spoken in parliament for over 12 months. In April last year allegations of drug-taking and sexual misconduct were made against him, and an investigation into these is ongoing. In addition, he is now facing further allegations of financial misconduct. The people of Frome deserve and need, especially during the current cost-of-living crisis, effective, committed, and transparent representation in parliament in line with the Nolan Principles.“
Mr Warburton did not attend the meeting he did however publish a statement. In it he acknowledged the issues he faced. A number of allegations made against the MP and are being investigated by Parliament. But after nearly a year there is still no conclusion to the investigations. Meantime Mr Warburton has been asked not to attend Parliament by the Speaker. This has left constituents feeling unrepresented. However in his statement Mr Warburton goes on to say “I have in fact dealt with well over 1,000 pieces of casework for the people of Frome alone and corresponded with them on more than 500 policy questions. I am in continual contact with Ministers and since September I have submitted 56 official Parliamentary Written Questions to Government on behalf of local people.“
He has also recently been given access to vote remotely on business conducted in Parliament.
However following the Frome vote The Leveller understands that other local councils are considering following suit. Langport Town Council whose Chair is Sean Dromgoole will debate the following resolution in March: “Langport Town Council does not think of itself as a political body, and we have not historically allowed national politics to impinge on our decision making. We work to serve Langport, but we have grown increasingly concerned about Langport’s lack of representation in Parliament from our MP, David Warburton. This is a complicated time in Somerset’s local politics with an entirely new balance being struck between the centre and the towns and parishes. An engaged MP should be helping us to get this balance right and raising any anomalies in Parliament. An MP who has not been allowed in the Palace of Westminster for almost a year, and with allegations multiplying rather than diminishing, is of little value at this time. We make no comment on the validity of the allegations against Mr Warburton, and we acknowledge that the pace of the process by which the truth and the gravity of the allegations is assessed, is woefully slow. However, we also note that Neil Parish, in our neighbouring constituency, stood down to clear his name within four days of allegations emerging. We would urge Mr Warburton to take the same course of action so that the people of Langport may once again be represented in Parliament, as is their right.“
The whole issue is further complicated by the fact that Somerton & Frome constituency will cease to exist shortly. If Mr Warburton did stand down and a by election was held, the new MP would only serve for a few months. A general election must be called by Dec 2024 and by then the constituency will be split into two. The new constituencies of Frome and Glastonbury & Somerton will be fought in Dec 2024. Not all candidates for the current Somerton & Frome constituency have made it clear where they will stand in 2024.
Martin Dimery told The Leveller: ”Frome is, once again, leading from the front when it comes to democratic experimentation. It is highly unusual for a Town Council to vote No Confidence in their MP. But then we are in highly unusual times.” For his part Sean Dromgoole added “Everywhere you go up and down our constituency people are fed up with the fact that David Warburton is not representing them in Westminster. We hear that the Speaker has after 11 months given him temporary permission to vote by proxy but that is not the same as representing us and making our opinions heard as policies are framed and legislation drafted. We pay our taxes and yet we are not getting the representation we are paying for. It is coming up for a year. It is time for David Warburton to step down and allow another to be selected who, by virtue of not being excluded from Parliament, can do the job. We think, if sufficient parishes and towns adopt one of the above motions, his position will become untenable – please ask your council to adopt one of the motions.”