I am sorry it has come to this, but after a lifetime of service to the Labour Party and twenty three years in the House of Commons I think I am entitled to discuss what has gone wrong with the Government and our political system in my remaining years as an MP.
It is my view that our political system is in trouble and that the exaggerated majorities in the House of Commons have led to an abject parliament and a concentration of power in Number 10 that has produced arrogant, error prone government.
Given that the next election might well produce a hung parliament, I want to be free to argue that this creates a valuable opportunity to reform our voting system so that the House of Commons more accurately reflects public opinion and we have a parliament more able to hold the Government to account and to ensure that policy is well considered.
As you know, I am critical of many other aspects of Government policy. The previous Chief Whip tried to use her authority to stop me discussing the fact that the Prime Minister engaged in a series of half-truths and deceits to get us to war in Iraq. You focus on my views on electoral reform.
The consequence is a string of rebukes, usually through the media. In the circumstances I think the best way to ensure that I can put forward my views for my remaining time in parliament is for me to resign the Whip. I will therefore sit in the House of Commons as an independent Labour MP.
I remain proud of the history of the Labour Party and a convinced Social Democrat.