'˜This is highly inappropriate behaviour' - reaction to response from Emma Lewell-Buck and husband on boundary change
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck and her husband have come under fire over their extraordinary response after being quizzed over their opposing views to a boundary shake-up.
Yesterday, we reported the MP was against proposals for the Simonside and Rekendyke wards in South Shields being moved into the Jarrow Constituency.
But husband Simon - who is a paid Parliamentary assistant in her office - made a public statement on the Boundary Commission website, backing the move - claiming people locally often refer to the area as the “Jarrow end of Shields.”
Neither were available for comment on the issue but mocked the Gazette story in a series of tweets on Twitter.
Despite the changes being a serious issue that will change the political landscape of the area, Mrs Lewell-Buck likened their differences to how they each prefer their coffee - while her husband mocked the paper in which his wife has a column, as “a comic”.
Mr Buck, who earns £14,999.99 a year for his part-time role, also dismissed the story as “Journalism with crayons” and suggested in another Tweet that the Gazette was being influenced by a “higher force.”
Their response angered a number of former and current politicians from across the political spectrum.
Jeff Milburn, former Conservative councillor for Cleadon and East Boldon, said: “As her husband, he is entitled to his own views. But the issue is that he’s not just her husband, he is a paid member of her staff - something they seem to forget that the tax payer funds.
“They have turned a serious situation into a Punch and Judy show and I don’t think they grasp how serious this is.”
He added: “They should be working out how best represent the constituency. I personally wouldn’t have any confidence in an office where a person in her position is publicly undermined by a member of her staff.
“At least one of them should resign. This is highly inappropriate behaviour of an MP and her employee towards the people she is supposed to represent.”
A former Labour party member said: “When he took on the role as parliamentary assistant, he also took on the duty to support that elected member, regardless of their marital status or his own views.
“This is no laughing matter. If he has his own individual views, that is fine. But to make them public when it directly conflicts with what his boss is saying, especially on such a contentious issue, leads you to believe this may not be a healthy office environment.
“We have here a paid employee, funded by the tax payer, publicly going against the views of the elected MP who pays his wages.”
He added: “I’d like to know whether she would act in the same way if any of her other members of staff chose to speak out against her.”
A senior Labour source said: “This a serious issue. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter whether he is her husband or not, he is employed by the South Shields MP.
“They don’t seem to grasp what the situation is about. It’s not about differing views between husband and wife, but is about differing views publicly between an employer and an employee who both hold a position of responsibility to the people of South Shields.”
Ali Hayder, deputy chairman of the South Shields Conservative Party said: “I am shocked at the behaviour. It has nothing to do with them being husband and wife and everything to do with the MP being his boss.
“As a boss, I wouldn’t like it if my staff went out publicly and undermined me.
“We all have our own views, but when we take on a role he has, you have to be careful how and where you air those views.”