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Commentators see James Purnell's retirement as symbol of weaker, less moderate Labour Party

PURNELL JAMES Responding to the decision of James Purnell to leave the Commons, commentators analyse what it says about the Labour Party:

"His departure is part of a wider trend. Older big-hitters on the right of the party, such as Alan Milburn, the former health secretary, and John Hutton, the former defence secretary, are also retiring. There will soon be a dearth of moderate firepower within the parliamentary Labour party." - FT leader

"Labour grows weaker by the day, hollowing out at the top, just as it has long since atrophied at the grassroots." - Jon Harris in The Guardian

"Purnell is part of a bigger, more portentous exodus, as MPs from across the political spectrum turn their backs on Parliament. Some of those departing were useless, but not all of them. Voters are fed up with politics. An ominous number of MPs, including Purnell, seem to share their disillusionment." - Steve Richards in The Independent.

"James Purnell’s exit makes a point about more than the abject state of his own party. It asks a question about what contribution a brave, sharp-minded, public-spirited and undoctrinaire individual can hope to make in modern British politics, from inside the tent. Answering it for himself, Mr Purnell has just gone outside. He may be some time." - Matthew Parris in The Times.