Lib Dem MP stands down “frustrated and disappointed” with party


By a Newsnet reporter

Just a week before the Lib Dem party conference in Glasgow, prominent Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather has announced that she is to stand down at the next election because she has lost faith in the party’s commitment to social justice and liberal values.

In an interview with the Observer newspaper, Ms Teather said that Lib Dem support for hard line immigration policies had left her feeling “desolate” and “catastrophically depressed”.

However the last straw came when Ms Teather found her party in support of the benefits cap, which will force many of her constituents in a poorer area of North London to move elsewhere due to high housing costs in the city.

Ms Teather said that with the experience “something broke” within her, and she realised that her party was afraid of public opinion.

She said: 

“It was the moment of realising that my own party was just as afraid of public opinion as the Labour party.  Something did break for me that was never ever repaired.”

In a statement on her website, Ms Teather wrote:

” … over the last three years, what has been difficult is that policy has moved in some of the issues that ground my own personal sense of political vocation – that of working with and serving the most vulnerable members of society.  I have disagreed with both Government and official party lines on a whole range of welfare and immigration policies, and those differences have been getting larger rather than smaller…

“I have tried hard to balance my own desire to truthfully fight for what I believe on these issues with the very real loyalty and friendship I feel to party colleagues, but that has created intense pressure, and at times left me very tired.  I don’t think it is sustainable for me personally to continue to try and do that in the long term.”

Ms Teather was first elected as MP for Brent Central in 2003.  With the formation of the Coalition government in 2010 she was appointed as Minister of State for Children and Families.  She was later displaced from the Cabinet in order to make way for David Laws, whom the Lib Dem leadership wanted to return to government. 

Mr Laws had been forced to resign from the position of Secretary to the Treasury just a few days into office after it came to light that he had claimed rent expenses whilst staying in his partner’s London home. 

A spokesperson for the Lib Dems said:

“Of course we are disappointed by Sarah’s decision.  The Liberal Democrats have a proud record in Government, including cutting taxes for working people by £700 and lifting the poorest paid out of tax altogether, helping businesses create a million jobs; investing billions more in schools to help the poorest children and introducing radical plans for shared parental leave.

“Sarah was a part of this when she served as a minister in the Coalition, as well as playing a key role in ending Labour’s disgraceful policy of locking up children for immigration purposes.”

Finishing her Observer interview Ms Teather said:

“I still love my party, but I am frustrated and disappointed. It is time to close this chapter.”