On Tuesday 27th June, the Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire, warming to her role as one of the newly reformed “listening” Tories tweeted this:
An often outspoken MP, since the election failed to produce a majority for the Conservatives a string of public tweets and media appearances from Ms Allen have made it clear that she is uncomfortable with her party allying itself with the DUP and should begin to listen to the groundswell of opinion in the country that the policies of austerity are targeting the wrong people.
On Wednesday 28th June, the Labour party tabled the amendment below to the queen’s speech. It called for an end to cuts in the police and fire service, along with an end to the public sector pay freeze.
One of the wonderful things about the sometimes complex and frustrating UK parliamentary system is that we all have access to our local MPs in constituency surgeries for face to face meetings, but also through correspondence via letter and email. With the growth of social media, both Facebook and Twitter have become a very public way of communicating with MPs too, and this access allows us to hold our MPs to account when their votes in parliament do not always correspond with their public statements.
On Wednesday morning, a number of South Cambridgeshire members took to social media and email to challenge Heidi Allen directly to vote in favour of Labour’s amendment in line with the very public statements she has made in support of ending the public sector pay freeze. Unfortunately on this occasion she shared the lobby with the 10 members of the DUP and the rest of her party in voting against Labour’s proposal. Putting her seemingly in favour of the government position recently clarified by number 10 after an apparent U turn that nothing has changed and the pay freeze is not in fact under review.
This was Heidi Allen’s first opportunity in the new parliament for her voting record to match her apparent personal stance. It was an opportunity she chose not to take, expressing in an interview that the amendment was “too partisan”, and that removing the pay freeze might see a “blanket pay rise” including higher paid public sector workers which she could not support. We will wait patiently to see if, when the next budget comes, she votes against measures to continue the freeze on public sector pay if they remain in place.
As local labour supporters we must take every opportunity to hold Heidi Allen’s voting record up to scrutiny in public and I would urge members to exercise their democratic right to contact Heidi and in a spirit of respect and collegiate discussion, request that she votes with her conscience on issues she has supported in public, and question her actions following votes in which it appears she has not done so.