Shadow universities minister resigns to spend more time with her constituents

Hull West MP, Emma Hardy, said that the twin impacts of government cuts and coronavirus on her constituents meant that she would “no longer be able to give the role of shadow minister the time it deserves”

The shadow further education and universities minister has resigned her post in order to spend more time with her constituents.

Emma Hardy, the MP for Hull West and Hessle, said yesterday (8 March) that a combination of government cuts and the coronavirus pandemic had taken a “heavy toll” on the area.

“In the past year, the number of residents contacting me needing help and support has risen dramatically,” she said in her resignation letter.

“I was elected as their representative and their needs will always come first.”

It was with a “heavy heart,” she added, that she stepped away from a role representing “some of the brightest minds in the country, whose work and advice will be vital to shaping a better future for as all in the years ahead”.

Matt Western, the MP for Warwick & Leamington, has been chosen as Hardy’s successor.

Hardy was first appointed to her shadow ministerial post by Jeremy Corbyn in January 2020, having spent the previous three years as parliamentary private secretary to Sir Keir Starmer.

Starmer kept her in post when he took over as Labour leader in April.

[Higher education] equips future generations with the skills and intellectual tools they need to prosper; broadens horizons; and can offer a route out of poverty and deprivation – excerpt from Emma Hardy’s resignation letter

Before succeeding Alan Johnson as the MP for Hull West and Hessle in 2017, Hardy had spent all of her professional life in education.

After completing more than 10 years teaching at a Hull primary school, she quit in 2015 to become a full-time organiser for the National Union of Teachers, going on to serve as deputy general secretary of the Socialist Educational Association.

As shadow universities minister, Hardy was a vocal critic of the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis and its impact on the sector.

Among her complaints was last month’s claim that the provision of an extra £50m to address student hardship fell far short of what was required.

In the summer Hardy presented seven tests she said the government needed to pass in order to demonstrate its commitment to higher education, and criticised the lack of staff or student representation on the task force convened to solve the crisis facing the sector.


From the archive: The now-former shadow universities minister outlines why she would seek an alternative funding model for HE


Emma Hardy’s resignation letter in full:

Today I resigned as Shadow Minister to give all of my time to residents in Hull West and Hessle. The number of local people needing my help and support has risen dramatically and they come first.

The job of representing the many voices, concerns and interests of the higher education sector is an important one. It is one which reflects the prominent role higher education plays in both the cultural and financial prosperity of the nation. It equips future generations with the skills and intellectual tools they need to prosper; broadens horizons; and can offer a route out of poverty and deprivation.

It contains some of the brightest minds in the country, whose work and advice will be vital to shaping a better future for as all in the years ahead. It was with a heavy heart therefore, that I came to the decision to offer my resignation from the position.

Despite my love of education, my loyalty to Keir Starmer and admiration of the great job Kate Green MP is doing, resigning was a decision I felt I had to make. We all know the challenges that face the people of Hull West and Hessle after a decade of Conservative austerity and cuts. We must now add to that the effects of COVID-19. The last year has seen government indecisiveness and delay lead to repeated lockdowns which have taken a heavy toll on the place I love.

In the past year the number of residents contacting me needing help and support has risen dramatically; I was elected as their representative and their needs will always come first.

As our superbly run local NHS vaccination programme reaches more and more people, and businesses begin to reopen, the task of rebuilding will begin. If I am to seize the moment and fight whole-heartedly for the investment in jobs, services and infrastructure necessary to create a better future, then for the time being I will no longer be able to give the role of a Shadow Minister the time and energy it deserves.

And it will be a fight, but under Keir’s leadership it’s a fight we can win. This Conservative Government is no friend to the residents of Hull and Hessle and the promises it made at the last election are already ringing hollow. I invite you to join me in the struggle for a fairer and more equal society and for the Labour Government our country desperately needs.

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