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"