Saturday, 23 February 2019

Another MP quits Labour ...

Ian Austin, defending a wafer thin majority of 22 (twenty two) has decided to effectively end his parliamentary career by resigning the Labour whip, and sitting as an independent MP.

He cited a "culture of extremism, antisemitism and intolerance" as his reasons for quitting the party.

But DOESN'T want to be part of The Independent Group.

In barely a week, TIG has gone from the party everyone wants to join, to the party no-one wants to join.

Good work, Chukka!

Saturday, 16 February 2019

A new 'centrist' party?

It's a day ending in 'Y' so that means there must be some new feverish speculation about the British Labour Party splitting.

Today it comes courtesy of The Guardian, a paper with a proud record of taking any possible negative story about Corbyn and blowing up into a supposed crisis in his leadership:
Intense discussions are taking place at Westminster that could lead to the emergence of a new centrist party consisting of six or more disaffected anti-Brexit Labour MPs along with the involvement of some Conservatives and the backing of the Liberal Democrats.

Labour MPs reported that some of those involved had lobbied backbench colleagues they thought were sympathetic as to how they could “make the shift” away from a tribal loyalty to the party.

The argument put forward was that the set of values that had drawn them to the Labour party, such as European solidarity, free movement, liberalism and anti-racism, could now be found elsewhere.

Those involved in the talks say frustrations over pro-Brexit policies pursued by Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May, coupled with Labour-specific concerns about antisemitism, have taken a handful of MPs to the point where they are seriously considering quitting.
Prima facie, it's a totally stupid idea, but we are talking about the masterminds behind the Chicken Coup, here, so who knows what acts of fresh self-immolation they are capable of?

Is there any appetite for a new 'centrist' party ('centrist' generally means right wing, in my experience).  I'd say there isn't much.  We've had the Lib Dems for decades. What can a new party offer that the Lib Dems can't?

The combined vote for Labour and the Tories in 2017 was 82.4%, with a moderately impressive 68.8% of the electorate casting votes. Contrast with previous elections:

2015 - 67.3% (66.4% turnout)
2010 - 65.1% (65.1%)
2005 - 67.6% (61.4%)
2001 - 72.4% (59.4%)
1997 - 73.9% (71.3%)
1991 - 76.3% (77.7%)
1987 - 73% (75.3%)
1983 - 70% (72.7%)
1977 - 80.08% (76%)
1974 (Oct) - 75% (72.8)
1974 (Feb) - 75.1% (78.8%)
1970 - 89.5% (72%)

So I don't think there is any evidence that there is a hunger for a third party, in the form of the Lib Dems or another party. If there was, why would more people be voting Tory or Labour than at any time since 1970?

Just wanting something to be true doesn't make it true.

Now let's look at there reasons for wanting to split.  Disatisfaction over Brexit is mentioned by the Guardian.  This certainly sounds like the reasoning of the Chicken Coupers.  Never mind the referendum result, clearly the British people got it wrong and - just like the Labout party membership in 2016-7 - have to be told to think again.  And not the heroic refusal to accept realities.  Somehow, half a dozen 'centrist' MPs will stop Brexit, although somehow they can't from within the Labour Party.  Perhaps their powers will be mysteriously amplified when they find themselves a new name and logo.  Perhaps they imagine they will see off the overwhelming hordes, like the Spartans at Thermopylae.

(Only, as nay fule kno, the Spartans didn't do that; they just got killed.)

Recall, of course, that these turbulent MPs were elected on the 2017 manifesto, which accepted the referendum result and sought a soft Brexit.  Were they lying when they endorsed the manifesto and stood for election?

If so, why should we trust them now?

Any attempt to resolve Brexit has to be one that Parliament will support; half a dozen MPs calling themselves 'centrists' can't achieve anything unless they have a plan that will win the support of large numbers of Labour and Conservative MPs.  I don't think they have such a plan.  I don't thin they have any idea at all.

As for anti-Semitism ... Under Corbyn's leadership there has been the Chakrabarti Inquiry; anti-Semitism is now, for the first time, mentioned in the party rule book as an expellable offense (previously it only mentioned the much vaguer 'bringing the party into disrepute'); the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism has been adopted in full, including the flawed examples.  Hundreds of members have been suspended, investigated and many expelled for anti-Semitic acts.  Yet still the claim that Labour is not doing enough is repeated.  So what does 'enough' look like?  What do they actually want the party to do.

The answer to that is, of course, what ever has been done, plus some more.  Because this isn't about anti-Semitism in Labour, any more than it is about Brexit.  It's about a particular strand of the party that is still struggling its way through the stages of grief.  After almost four years stuck in denial, now we seem to be entering the angry phase.  Denied the power they think is theirs by right, denied by those pesky members who think they know better than the PPE graduate inheritors of Blair, they are taking their toys and going home.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

The Brexit Party

Nigel Farage has set up a new political vehicle to drive his ego about in. With startling originality, he's called it The Brexit Party.

 Interesting timing. You'd have thought they would have waited until after Brexit to see if it was necessary. Doing it now suggests some people of the ERG-Farage persuasion don't think an acceptable (i.e. hard-as-nails) Brexit is going to happen and are getting things 'in hand'.

Asking for it ...

" I saw a newspaper picture, From the political campaign A woman was kissing a child, Who was obviously in pain. She spill...