Blears faces censure despite walkout apology

Hazel Blears apologised today for the timing of her Cabinet walkout as she faced a battle to hang on to her seat.





The former Communities Secretary admitted she had been wrong to quit on the eve of crucial elections, as it emerged that activists in Salford will bid to deselect her next week.

In her first interview since the dramatic departure last week, Ms Blears tried to defuse anger by insisting that the move was not part of a plot to oust the Prime Minister.

She said her position became untenable after Mr Brown described her failure to pay capital gains tax on the sale of a second home as "totally unacceptable".

She received backing from senior figures in her constituency association in the wake of the revelations.

However, Labour sources at Westminster today confirmed that a deselection motion will be considered at a meeting of activists in Salford next Thursday.

In an interview with the Manchester Evening News, the Salford MP said she had not spoken to Cabinet colleagues, including James Purnell who quit the following day, about her plan to resign.

Ms Blears said she now realised she should not have walked out the day before the European and local elections.

"I genuinely thought I could go without it sparking off this huge firestorm," she said.

"In hindsight that judgment was wrong. I should have waited until after the election. The effect on the party is something I will live with for ever."

Ms Blears ruled out a return to the Government, despite Mr Brown's professed hope that she would do so.

But she expressed remorse for her cutting remarks about the Prime Minister's recent YouTube appearance, in which he set out proposals for the reform of MPs' expenses.

Amid widespread mockery of Mr Brown's awkward performance, she wrote in a newspaper article: "YouTube if you want to.

"But it's no substitute for knocking on doors or setting up a stall in the town centre."

She told the Manchester Evening News today that she had only realised later how the article had been "thoughtless and quite cruel".

Ms Blears also said it had been "a stupid thing to do" to wear a brooch bearing the phrase "Rocking the boat" on the day of her resignation.

The MP's conciliatory remarks were in contrast with fellow former minister Caroline Flint's savage criticism of the Prime Minister since her resignation on Friday.

Ms Blears voluntarily paid £13,000 to the taxman last month after it emerged she had "dual declared" to avoid capital gains on a taxpayer-funded home.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "We have made our statement last week on the issue of Hazel Blears and that's where it rests."

The Cabinet held a special extended meeting in London this morning to thrash out Labour's "next steps" after recent troubles.



It is understood that three branches of Ms Blears' Salford constituency Labour Party are putting forward motions of no confidence in her for consideration on Thursday.

Labour MEP for the North West Brian Simpson said Ms Blears' actions were "unforgivable" and may have cost the party a third European Parliament seat in the region, allowing British National Party leader Nick Griffin to claim a seat by a narrow margin.

Mr Simpson acknowledged that he could not be certain whether the result of the Euro election was effected by Ms Blears' actions.

But he told BBC Radio 4's PM programme that the timing of Ms Blears' departure came as a "body blow" to Labour candidates, MEPs, councillors and activists who had spent the previous weeks campaigning for the party.

Mr Simpson said: "For the campaign workers who had been out on the street, the volunteers and the candidates, in the most difficult of circumstances for over four weeks, we do expect our senior colleagues to understand that, prior to the election, they need to act with responsibility. I didn't feel Hazel acted with responsibility last week."

He added: "The BNP just squeaked in, not because they polled any more than they did five years ago, but because a lot of Labour supporters stayed home.

"I really don't believe the resignation 24 hours before a major election was helpful... To do it at the time she did was unhelpful, and that is unforgivable.

"I know there are a lot of very unhappy Labour Party members out there."



It is understood that three branches of Ms Blears' Salford constituency Labour Party are putting forward motions of no confidence in her for consideration on Thursday.



Labour MEP for the North West Brian Simpson said Ms Blears' actions were "unforgivable" and may have cost the party a third European Parliament seat in the region, allowing British National Party leader Nick Griffin to claim a seat by a narrow margin.



Mr Simpson acknowledged that he could not be certain whether the result of the Euro election was effected by Ms Blears' actions.



But he told BBC Radio 4's PM programme that the timing of Ms Blears' departure came as a "body blow" to Labour candidates, MEPs, councillors and activists who had spent the previous weeks campaigning for the party.



Mr Simpson said: "For the campaign workers who had been out on the street, the volunteers and the candidates, in the most difficult of circumstances for over four weeks, we do expect our senior colleagues to understand that, prior to the election, they need to act with responsibility. I didn't feel Hazel acted with responsibility last week."



He added: "The BNP just squeaked in, not because they polled any more than they did five years ago, but because a lot of Labour supporters stayed home.



"I really don't believe the resignation 24 hours before a major election was helpful... To do it at the time she did was unhelpful, and that is unforgivable.



"I know there are a lot of very unhappy Labour Party members out there."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

    Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

    £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

    Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

    Day In a Page

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with excess, cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map
    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
    Paris Fashion Week

    Paris Fashion Week

    Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
    A year of the caliphate:

    Isis, a year of the caliphate

    Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?