Dear Diane

27 January 2017

[Letter sent to my local MP, Diane Abbott. Do the same! Keep up the pressure on MPs to represent your views.]

Dear Diane,

When I first moved to Hackney, I was proud to tell people I had you as my MP. As one of the few voices on the Labour backbenches consistently voting according to conscience, defying the party whip when it was at odds with your principles and your constituents' interests, you stood out from the crowd of political apparatchiks toting the party line. On issues ranging from the Iraq war, to defending the NHS from privatisation, to resisting the incoming tide of government mass surveillance, your voting record aligned even more closely with my views than the overall Labour party line. Though I've been a lifelong Labour voter, I was even happier to be a Diane Abbot voter.

You campaigned for remaining in the EU. Your constituents voted overwhelmingly remain, the joint-second highest remain vote (with Lambeth) after Gibraltar. You know that opposing a hard Brexit and fighting to keep the UK in the common market is in the best interests of your constituents, not just economically but also socially. You know that, for 40 years, the strongest bulwark against dismantling of social protections, civil liberties, and workers' rights in the UK has been European legislation. You know that fighting to retain as much of that as possible is fighting to prevent Theresa May's race to the very bottom in pandering to Trump, legitimising corporate tax evasion, liberating corporations to exploit employees, and dismantling and privatising the services that provide a safety net to so many in the UK.

Now you are in the unenviable position of being in the shadow cabinet of a party imposing a three-line whip to vote against your own views, and against the overwhelming majority view of your own constituents. If you abandon your principles and independent-mindedness now, just because you sit in the shadow cabinet, will you be able to live with your own capitulation to political expediency on this, perhaps the most important issue to face the country in two generations?

If you show the same courage on this as you did on the Iraq war and on so many other issues in the past, you will not only retain my vote but my deepest respect. And I'm sure those of many, many more of your constituents.

If, however, you fall at this hurdle, tote the party line on Article 50, and completely fail to represent your constituents in Westminster, you will not only lose my vote permanently, but will push me into actively campaigning against you in future elections in favour of someone who represents my views and can provide effective opposition, both to our current catastrophy of a government and - when necessary - to their own party.

I trust you will not disappoint.

Best wishes,

Toby Cubitt

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