Friday, 27 January 2017

Corbyn's final blunder?

So, it turns out (hideously) that the Guardian was right and I was wrong.  Jeremy Corbyn has told his Shadow Cabinet that a three-line whip will be issued over the triggering of Article 50.

It's like he resents how the media have been - just ever so slightly - focusing on Conservative woes recently, and wants the spotlight back on his own troubles.

I've been pretty supportive of Corbyn up until now, but I'm done with him. This is madness.

Imposing a three line whip is politically stupid as it generates negative headlines for Labour at a time when they really, really can't afford them.

It is morally stupid because Corbyn has always been a bit of a rebel and telling other people how to vote smacks of hypocrisy.

It is democratically stupid as it leaves the 48% who voted remain unrepresented and alienated.

So, pretty stupid.

One member of the Shadow Cabinet, Tulip Siddiq, has already resigned over this:
Shadow minister Tulip Siddiq has resigned from the Labour frontbench, telling the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, that she could not reconcile herself to the party’s three-line whip to vote for triggering article 50.

In her letter to Corbyn, the shadow minister for early years said voting to start the process of leaving the EU would be a betrayal of her north London constituents, three-quarters of whom voted to remain in the EU.

“I have always been clear – I do not represent Westminster in Hampstead and Kilburn, I represent Hampstead and Kilburn in Westminster,” Siddiq wrote in her resignation letter. “I feel that the most effective place for me to counter Theresa May’s hard Brexit is from the backbenches.”

Siddiq said she had made the final decision to resign after Corbyn confirmed to the shadow cabinet on Thursday morning that Labour MPs would be expected to back the article 50 bill and a three-line whip would be imposed. “I do not support the triggering of article 50 and cannot reconcile myself to the frontbench position,” she wrote in her letter to Corbyn.
A few days ago I said he just needs to keep things quiet and let the Tories endure a bit of bad publicity. I dismissed the rumours of a three line whip as unsubstantiated trouble making by the Guardian. Now this.

Corbyn, of all leaders, should understand the importance of conscience. And he's picked a silly, needless, divisive fight which will alienate the last few MPs who support (or at least tolerate) his leadership. And it was completely unnecessary, as there was no prospect of the trigger bill failing.  To win, he didn't need to do anything - he would have avoided the negative headlines, kept his cabinet intact, made his opponents looks mean spirited divisive. The handful of votes against Article 50 he would have countenance would be unlikely to make a difference to the result.

Now he has to endure the resignations (and probably several more triggered by those trying to destabalise him, again) and still face the rebellions at the vote.  Possibly even more as he has put his authority - such as it is - on the line.

The only way this makes any sort of sense is if he is looking for an excuse to resign. But that would suggest more cunning than I credit him with.

Corbyn allowed free votes over blowing up Syrians and potential nuclear annihilation - is Brexit really more important than either of these issues?

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