A leading Labour Party supporter of British entry to the European Common Market announced on Friday (6 October) that he would resign his seat in the House of Commons and contest it in the resulting by-election as a 'Democratic Labour' candidate.
GV EXT - Houses of Parliament
MV ZOOM TO CU Mr. Taverne interviewed:- SOF STARTS: "It's something much more...... SOF ENDS: ".... on the whole range of policy."
MV INT Wedgwood Benn speaks at Labour Party conference:- SOF STARTS: "It was announced... SOF ENDS: "....any damage to us, Comrades." (APPLAUSE).
TAVERNE: "It's something much more fundamental. It's in the first place whether an MP should stand for what he believes in and speak out for it, because a lot of my supporters are not people who are for the Market at all. A lot of people who want me to take the steps I take are in fact anti-marketeers. No, we're concerned with first of all, I think, the issues of integrity in politics and consistency in politics, about the nature of democracy.
And democracy in the local party shouldn't be controlled by a party caucus that ignores the views of its ordinary members. And then we are concerned about whether the Labour Party should speak out clearly. Now at the moment it doesn't. It speaks with constant double talk. Its a revolt against double talk, as much as anything else, which has led me to take this step."
REPORTER: "What, in fact, will you then say to the electors in Lincoln when you present some form of manifesto?"
TAVERNE: "Well, I shall first of all stand on the same kind of platform I stood on in 1970. I stand against the policies of the Government, which have neglected Lincoln. Secondly, I also say let's have some sense in the Labour Party, let's have some clarity from the Labour Party and let's have some consistency about politics. And if you believe in the independence of an MP then I hope that they would support me if I have to fight a by-election. That's one of - that's some of the things. But certainly in due course I would offer a manifesto on the whole range of policy."
WEDGWOOD BENN: "It was announced fifty minutes ago that there is to be a by-election in Lincoln. The by-election in Lincoln, we are told, is to be fought by a Democratic Labour candidate, who is neither democratic nor Labour. I say (APPLAUSE), I say nothing of our departed colleague, though a tinge of sadness must mark his going. I say nothing of him because other men have done it before and they have never been able to do any damage to us, Comrades. (APPLAUSE)
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Background: A leading Labour Party supporter of British entry to the European Common Market announced on Friday (6 October) that he would resign his seat in the House of Commons and contest it in the resulting by-election as a 'Democratic Labour' candidate.
He's Mr. Dick Taverne, Member of Parliament for Lincoln, who has been under pressure from local Labour Party officials to resign because of his stand in support of the Common Market. The Party is opposed to entry on the terms negotiated by the ruling Conservative Government. Mr. Taverne said he had resigned because of the Labour Party's 'double talk' over British entry to the Common Market, referring to its original support for membership.
Mr. Taverne had a majority of 4,750 votes over his Conservative opponent in the 1970 election, and Lincoln is generally regarded as a safe Labour seat.
Mr. Taverne's announcement was quickly relayed to the Labour Party conference being held in Blackpool. The party chairman, Mr. Anthony Wedgwood Benn, said Mr. Taverne's resignation would not damage the Labour Party.
On Wednesday (4 October), the Labour Party conference rejected demands from a large body of the Party for a policy of withdrawal from the Common Market. But it decided that if Labour gained power, it would press for renegotiation of the terms of entry and would hold a public referendum.
Following is the transcript of a British Broadcasting Corporation interview with Mr. Taverne and part of Mr. Wedgwood Benn's statement to the Labour Party conference, as shown in this film.