Monday, 18 February 2019

The Ex-Labour Seven


Every time I think British politics couldn't get any dafter it does.

We have the most incompetent government since that of Lord North, daily making itself more and more foolish, and so what happens?  Not  a split in the Tories. Oh no - though the soi disant European Research Group, the ERG, have been acting as a party within a party for months, forming a tail which is very effectively wagging the dog.

No, the split is in the Labour Party, from which seven of their MPs have decided to resign.

It is not even clear why.  Their chief spokesperson (so far, anyway), Luciana Berger, cites Corbyn's failure to deal effectively with Anti-Semitism,  Chuka Umunna wants to build "a new politics." All are attacked by their colleagues on the left  as being a "Blairite rump" unhappy with the direction in which Corbyn has taken the party.


With only 38 days to go before we may crash out of the EU, with or without a deal, (and if there is a deal it is bound to be far inferior to the one we already have if we stay in), this messy defection, which would normally be "big news," is an irrelevant sideshow  The last thing we need in this month of crisis.

If the seven had concentrated on Brexit, said they would campaign openly and enthusiastically, within and without Parliament, to thwart Brexit, either by demanding a People's Vote, or, better, by simply withdrawing Article 50, regardless of the party Whip, there would be some sense it in.  Their courage would encourage enough MPs from all parties to join them them, and the party bosses  might have been sufficiently rattled to withdraw their Whips and allow Free Votes.

Instead, their move is but a domestic squabble. It may seem important inside the Westminster bubble, but is a foolish distraction at this critical time.

Happily, official Liberal Democrat reaction has so far been suitably low key, and, crucially, more Brexit  focussed..

Vince Cable said the split was "not unexpected, or unwelcome" and his party was open to "working with like-minded groups and individuals in order to give the people the final say on Brexit, with the option to remain in the EU"


9 comments:

  1. Their reasons for leaving may well have included worries about their Holidays in the Greek islands this summer and never have been given any fresh veg from Corbyn's allotment.

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  2. Actually, this may well, I think, turn out to be the big news, in the way that often it is the little things that seem unimportant at the time that have the biggest impact.

    Once we leave the EU in a month and a half, the public will — with a sigh of relief — move on from it, and focus on the next question: what kind of country will the newly-indpendent UK be?

    In that context, the fact that seven of his own MPs have declared they don't think the leader of the opposition is a fit and proper person to be Prime Minister is quite a big thing. If there were to be a general election in the next year or so — let's hope not, but hardly inconceivable — every Labour candidate would have to answer the question, 'do you think Jeremy Corbyn should be Prime Minister?'

    And evasions like, 'I'm a Labour candidate, and that means I think a Labour government would be best for the country, and t the moment Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of the Labour Party so he would head a Labour government' won't cut it. People will recognise that mealy-mouthed non-endorsement for what it is. And they won't vote for a party which doesn't even believe in its own leader.

    The Labour Party, for as long as Corbyn is in charge, is quite simply unelectable. So if it stays that way for long enough, the party — the main opposition party of the UK for almost a century — is dead. And nobody knows what will replace it: certainly not the Lib Dems, who seem to have decided to deal with the trauma of 2015 by retreating to their comfort zone of being a post-university debating society slash the 'legalise weed and prostitution' party, and thus made themselves drastically unappealing to all but the 10% of the population who are hardcore lefty progressive liberals.

    So that's a massive change in the political landscape of the country. One that will reverberate long after the Brexit dust settles, especially if a bunch of quasi-Tories like Clarke, Soubry, Boles and Allen do the same thing and either join this group or form their own.

    Of course it may not be that; it may fizzle out into nothing. But to me this looks like it has the potential to be far bigger than Brexit.

    (You might object that the SDP didn't lead to this sort of re-alignment; which is true, but then Neil Kinnock wasn't Jeremy Corbyn, and so the Labour party remained electable through the '80s. It didn't happen to get elected, but it didn't have as a leader someone who wanted to get rid of Trident, invite the Russians in, and surrender to the IRA, so it could conceivably have been elected, especially in 1992. Whereas it is inconceivable that Jeremy Corbyn could be Prime Minister.)

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  3. You're speculating beyond Brexit and could well be right. The circumstances are quite different from those in 1981, not least as a result of the changes in communications - social media and all that. However, for the moment I limit my horizons to Brexit and the tactics for stopping it.I hope to post an open letter to my MP on that topic shortly, but will wait a bit to give her the chance to reply.

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