by Kevin Meagher
It’s easy enough to see Jamie Reed’s decision to quit as Member of Parliament for Copeland as an “up yours” to Jeremy Corbyn.
Reed has been a constant – and often humorous – thorn in the Labour Leader’s flesh. His resignation letter, courteous and charitable to Corbyn, should probably be read for what it says, rather than be pored over for coded meaning.
His move to take up a role with his old employer, BNFL, seems an obvious fit given he is born and bred in the area and his family are settled there.
Reed is part of a generation of MPs who are also young dads (Reed is father of four) and miss their kids during the week in Westminster.
He told The Guardian that he was finding it “increasingly difficult” to balance home/work and although the decision to leave Parliament was “the hardest one I’ve ever made” it was “undoubtedly the best thing for me to do for my family.”
Resigning to spend more time with my family is the famously trite excuse for a political resignation, but just occasionally it happens to be true.
Made all the harder by the fact Reed’s West Cumbrian seat is simply miles from anywhere.
Of course ‘picturesque’ does not do the area justice – it is magnificent – but the travel to and fro from Westminster each week must have taken a toll.
As Parliament’s pre-eminent Star Wars aficionado, he will have learned the hard way that you can’t do the Copeland run in twelve parsecs.
I remember driving up from Warrington for a meeting with Jamie when he was first elected in 2005. It took about four hours, with half of it spent negotiating small roads around the Lake District.
I did so much clutch control that I must have worn five years off my knee joints.
Let that be a lesson for his would-be replacements.
The smart move for Labour in a seat with a 2,564 majority would be to pick a local and play that advantage hard.
For those London-types eyeing up the opportunity, just bear in mind that you can get a train to Paris faster than you can to Keswick.
Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut and author of ‘A United Ireland: Why unification is inevitable and how it will come about’, published by Biteback