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North-East MP loses frontbench role
A SECOND North-East Labour MP has been forced out of his frontbench job after clashing with the party leadership on a key policy.
Ian Lavery, the Wansbeck MP, quit as unpaid aide to Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader, after tabling amendments in the Commons to block looming increases in the retirement age.
But it was Labour that first proposed a series of retirement hikes, which have now been accelerated by the Coalition so the pension age will be 66 in 2020 - and rise further to 67, in 2026.
Mr Lavery stepped down as Ms Harman's parliamentary private secretary (PPS) yesterday (Thursday, December 6).
Earlier this year, Grahame Morris, the Easington MP, attacked Labour's support for harsh public-sector pay curbs as "counterproductive", warning it would suck out demand and prolong the slump.
The left-winger had already angered the party leadership by refusing to cross a Westminster picket line when up to two million workers went on strike last November.
The twin clashes cost Mr Mr Morris his unpaid as a parliamentary aide to Rachel Reeves, the shadow Treasury chief secretary - traditionally seen as the first rung on the ministerial ladder.
In a statement, Mr Lavery said: "I tabled a series of amendments to the Public Sector Pensions Bill which I was asked to withdraw because they were not in line with the front bench position. I was not prepared to withdraw them and I stand by that."
In response, Ms Harman said: "I thank Ian for all his invaluable help, support and friendship as my PPS - particularly during my time as acting leader. He will continue to play an important role."
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