UK Politics

Analysis: Another Labour MP quits

Tristram Hunt

Former shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has announced he will resign as MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, to become director of the V&A Museum in London, triggering another by-election in a Labour seat.

It's a decision that's easy to understand: The offer of a dream job. A chance to run one of the world's most important museums - a job that will be easier to marry with family life and young children.

And in his resignation letter, Tristram Hunt says he couldn't turn the V&A down. He also says his departure from politics should not be interpreted as a desire to rock the boat.

However, it's a move that says a lot about the current condition of the Labour party.

Labour's Tristram Hunt quits to head V&A

Tristram Hunt would once have been called a Blairite. A thinker and historian who was close to Peter Mandelson and friends, long before he entered Parliament.

Mr Hunt must have hoped for great things from his political career. He was made shadow education secretary by Ed Milband and thought about standing for the leadership when Mr Milband quit.

He had pride and affection for his potteries' constituency but in Westminster cut a rather different figure from most.

Academic, wry and detached. A book-writer not a ladder-climber. And in Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party, Tristram Hunt's political centrism is alien.

Days after the EU referendum Mr Hunt wrote a fierce piece for the Guardian saying Jeremy Corbyn's leadership was a "self-indulgent" experiment that had to end if the party was going to keep its traditional working class voters.

His resignation follows that of Jamie Reed last month - another Labour MP who had been critical of the party's shift to the left - and it leaves Mr Corbyn facing another difficult by-election that UKIP will be fighting to win.

I don't think Jeremy Corbyn will mind in the slightest that Tristram Hunt has gone.

But Mr Corbyn's critics in Parliament face a dilemma: to follow Tristram Hunt out of politics or to stay and fight for a party they believe is in deep trouble.

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