A tribute to Ann and Joan

Written by Chris Leslie.

Ann Coffey

I first met Ann Coffey when I arrived in the House of Commons in 1997. She was appointed as Tony Blair’s Parliamentary Private Secretary, which meant she had the job of liaising between backbench Labour MPs and Downing Street. It quickly became clear that she was not only trustworthy and capable but also eminently selfless, with a desire to see good government and strong policies implemented for the good of the whole country.

With her background in child protection, Ann has long championed the need for policies which protect the vulnerable and support both families and individuals from cradle to grave. When it came to the difficult choices around the future of the Labour Party, Ann knew exactly that our principles had to come ahead of party tribalism.

Ann has an amazing sense of humour, is great company but also has a wisdom that, as a new MP, I valued tremendously. She has served her constituents impeccably and leaves Parliament with a record of distinction and integrity. I am proud to call her my colleague and friend.

 

Joan Ryan

Our good colleague Joan Ryan’s announcement that she will not be seeking re-election in Enfield North gives me the opportunity to pay tribute to her as a true public servant, who has never been afraid to stand up for what’s right.

Joan was elected five times in Enfield North and has served her constituents diligently. She has an excellent track record fighting for her local hospital, working with the Mayor and Ministers to tackle crime and focusing on the educational opportunities needed for young people locally.

Joan’s refusal to turn a blind eye to the atrocious situation in the Labour Party on antisemitism – together with Labour’s shift to the hard left and failures on Brexit – meant she left Labour in February this year and helped us create the Independent Group for Change. This was never about our own political self-interest, but about standing up and saying ‘enough is enough’, taking action rather than merely uttering words.

Joan’s principled stance has been a real inspiration to me and many others. She is a great public speaker, a keen internationalist, and an MP who really cares about her community. Joan’s departure from Parliament at the next election will be a real loss but we wish her, Martin and all her family the very best for a fantastic next chapter!