Yes, are you feeling disenfranchised? As in, could you vote for any party in the UK without a feeling of dismay, and a peg on your nose?
Now, as far as Mrs May is concerned, there’s not much likelihood of a general election coming along soon, and yet, you never know. We live in a state of constant uncertainty here, with a vote for her deal, or a no-deal, going to the wire (see timetable in my last post). Meanwhile, there are a large number of MPs in the House, from all parties, against a no-deal, but do they have the power to stop a no-deal, which Mrs May has refused to take off the table? It’s uncertain. Nevertheless, Cabinet Ministers are apparently threatening to resign over this and a few Tory MPs, might, and I say might, resign from their party because of Mrs May’s stance on Brexit.
But would any join the magnificent/insignificant (you choose) 7 Labour MPs who yesterday (18 February) resigned from the Labour whip and set up what they call the Independent Group, because of Brexit and other very important issues like the antisemitism within the Labour Party, on which topic Corbyn is so very feeble in his attempts to stamp out. Much muttering on Twitter has them as either heroes or villains in about equal amounts, I’d say. There’s either, ‘oh at last, here are some Labour MPs with the courage to stand up for Remainers’, and at the other end of the spectrum, it’s, ‘you traitors’ and worse.
Here’s what I think. I have said some very harsh words about Corbyn (see last post) and I meant every one of them, but I would never not be a supporter of Labour. You don’t leave a party – you argue within it – and if you do leave, you’re doomed as Independents to become nobodies, if you aren’t already. I mean, who are these seven MPs? I’ve heard of two, but the others?
Remember the Limehouse Four or the Gang of Four? In 1981, Bill Rodgers, Roy Jenkins, David Owen and Shirley Williams broke away from the Labour Party and formed the SDP (Social Democratic Party). All four were heavyweights both politically and intellectually and yet i) they did a lot of damage and ii) it was the end of their political careers. It doesn’t do any good to try and create a third party – oh, wait a minute we’ve got one already. And I believe Chuka* is hoping that a new party will be created by the end of the year. This sounds a bit lightweight to me – where are their ideas, policies and principles? OK, they don’t like Corbyn and they don’t like the way he’s dealing with Brexit – quelle surprise, nor do many other Labour MPs but the majority of those Labour MPs are working within the party not outside it – watch for the Yvonne Cooper amendment along with Peter Kyle’s; both are fighting for a sensible resolution to this challenging situation.
This little splinter (because it’s not important enough to be a split) could gain more defecting MPs, but they may not. However, their decision is badly timed, badly judged and they’re not as important as they think they are, and they’ll realise that soon enough.
And yet, Labour should listen to criticism. Because what I find so totally galling and beyond frustrating is that, even with the fine mess we’re in, which can put totally and absolutely on to the Conservative party (and Mrs May’s absent negotiating skills) Labour is trailing the Tories in the opinion polls. And why? Because, everyone can see that Corbyn is not acting as a true Leader of the Opposition and opposing Brexit. There’s much activity in the House and on the Opposition benches, but we see you, Corbyn, we see you. You are not an effective leader of either your party or the Opposition, so why vote for you to be the Prime Minister? Please. Labour Party, of which I was once a member, vote in another Labour leader.
And am I feeling disenfranchised? No, I have the wonderful Caroline Lucas as my MP. She’s a Green MP, the only one we have, but she gets my vote. She’s an excellent constituency MP and if you hear her speak in the House of Commons, she’s a proper grown-up. Caroline Lucas for PM I say! Because, actually, this national nervous breakdown we’re currently having is so very unimportant in comparison to global warming and climate change. Put Caroline Lucas in charge of our nation and I’d be a lot happier about life, I can tell you!
Penny Kocher, 19 February 2019
*The seven MPs are:
Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Ann Coffey, Chuka Umunna, Mike Gapes, Angela Smith and Gavin Shuker