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The eight (so far) and ideology…or… February 20, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

…how on earth did some of these folk wind up in the British Labour Party?

Chris Leslie, a former shadow chancellor, has been an outspoken critic of some of Labour’s economic policies.

“They are hostile to business large and small,” he said in his resignation speech. “They make impossible promises that everyone knows, in their hearts, couldn’t be kept without putting the economy at risk. And they constantly pit one part of society against another.”

Come again?

During the 2015 leadership race, when Corbyn proposed a “people’s quantitive easing”, Leslie was explicitly critical and said it would raise interest rates to hit the poorest in society, though the policy has since been overtaken by other proposed measures.

So unlike measures taken at times by the Treasury over the years.

Meanwhile, perhaps the single worst example:

Angela Smith has also been highly critical of Labour’s policy of water nationalisation, saying it could lead to the UK becoming the “dirty man of Europe”. The MP is the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on water, which is partially funded by the industry. In her resignation speech, Smith cited her working-class background as a reason for her departure.

If such a relatively anodyne measure as water nationalisation, something that even Fine Gael could countenance, is beyond these guys pale?

One aspect of the split is the fact they haven’t taken on a party mantle as of yet. They’re seemingly being termed the Independent Group. That oddly seems quite similar to politics on this island, or at least in this state, where similar splits from parties have often seen people eschew parties for quite some time. Whether they will do likewise over the long term remains to be seen. And does British politics allow for space for such formations? I’m dubious. But, in these febrile times who knows?

I was surprised that only four broke away in 1981 to the SDP’s. Of course 28 MPs were to follow. The fact that another joined the original seven last evening suggests a plan to have a steady stream across the next few days.

This outline of their platform from one ITV journalist is interesting.

What we know about this new Independent Group:

 They’re independents, but not yet a party, hoping to develop over time
 They could vote alongside any party on case by case basis
 They’re centrist
 There’s no leader
 They won’t merge with any other party

I think we can bet that at least three of those will change, and I’m not buying into this ‘centrist’ label either. Right of centre in my book.

And one last thought for the moment, the Peoples Vote group have run as fast as possible away from the supposed ‘Independent Group’. Who can blame them? In one swift move the latter have all but completely sunk the last residual chance of such an exercise and discredited those who might seek it. Always thought a People’s Vote was a stretch and probably not worth the effort being expended on it as against pushing for a soft Brexit. But it tells us a lot about those who have split that they would trash that in their departure.


1. EWI - February 20, 2019

One aspect of the split is the fact they haven’t taken on a party mantle as of yet. They’re seemingly being termed the Independent Group.

That name smells of being chosen by a consultant or advisor, and the drip-drip resignations to keep in the media cycle is the same stunt that was used a couple of years back.

The real purpose here may be merely to scupper Corbyn’s chances of forming a government. Expect them to become ever-present fixtures in the BBC and the Guardian, who are evidently happy to help them achieve that purpose.

Liked by 1 person

gypsybhoy69 - February 20, 2019

Headline on Newsnow:
Joan Ryan MP, chair of Labour Friends of Israel, has quit the party citing anti-Semitism
Who’d have thought it? Oh am I being anti-semitic?
Chuka was a loss to say which part of the last manifesto he was against in an interview yesterday.


EWI - February 20, 2019

Here we go:


Alibaba - February 20, 2019

Bang on correct EWI about the BBC and the Guardian. I tend to watch or read them because I rely on them for being truthful, but the anti-Corbyn push is forceful and never-ending.


2. 6/5against - February 20, 2019

Its al a bit odd. Let’s take as a starting point that these people are self centred careerists, seeking to further their careers. How does this split work for them? They’ve laid it out for the media that the split is down to a failed Brexit policy and anti-Semitism. But these issues are so ephemeral in the current situation.

I’ve given up predicting what way the Brexit debacle will play out, but its not hard to see a scenario where the May deal is ultimately put to a people’s vote, and that that would happen as a result of Labour pushing for that policy. Its not off the cards, its not a ship-that-has-sailed, its actually still, more or less, labour policy. But they’re walking now? To what end? How silly will they look if the people’s vote happens?

The anti-Semitism thing is going nowhere. It can’t be solved as an issue because it isn’t an issue. It will, and has, damaged Labour and Corbyn to an extent, but most of that damage is now done. From the independent group, it will increasingly look like inter-party politics as usual. So what end is served by walking now.

I really don’t see anything clever is being done here. From every point of view, the rebels would have been better fighting their fights from within.


GW - February 20, 2019

Well – antisemitism (conscious and sub-conscious anti-Jewish racism) is real and you would expect it to exist in the British Labour Party as it does elsewhere in society.

That said, it’s clear Berger and Ryan are part of cynical Likudnik network abusing anti-antisemitism to further its political aims. Which damages Jews everywhere in the longer term.

Berger was first pointing out antisemitism in the BLP in 2005 when the war criminal and not Seumas Milne was in charge.

My guess is that the defectors could have been defused had the Labour Party been more pro-active earlier in promoting a (this time informed) referendum on Brexit earlier. It would have probably been voted down in the British parliament, but then Labour could have said ‘Well we tried!’, and held its coalition together.

Holy fork but British politics is tedious and dispiriting these days.


3. makedoanmend - February 20, 2019

I can’t but help draw some parallels between the so-called Independents and our own power sharing agreement in the Dáil.

Aren’t the neoliberal ‘”centrists” across the West scrambling to keep neoliberal ideology front and centre as the only social and economic Alternative – even as their policy of austerity rips asunder the social and economic fabric of Western democracies?

If they fail in their quest, they become relics. If they succeed the gravy train continues for the top 20%. If they only partially succeed, they at least feather their own nests as the divisions in society accelerate. In 2 out of 3 scenarios, they come out pretty good.

Some of our political class is bought and paid for, and the rest have drank at the fountain of neoliberal ideology to sate their intellectual thirst forever.

History is getting more and more historier by the day.


4. irishelectionliterature - February 20, 2019

Three Tories have now joined them too. Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen


GW - February 20, 2019

More Tories rumoured to be going. They are also facing deselection from UKIP entryists and the ‘normal’ right-of-Ghengis-Kahn 85-year old Tory party members.

Well that was ageist of me!


WorldbyStorm - February 20, 2019

They’re a grim crew – and no mistake


Michael Carley - February 20, 2019

Whatever about their politics, they are far more substantial figures than the eight who have bailed out of Labour.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - February 20, 2019

Yeah that’s true.


5. Paul Culloty - February 20, 2019

And of course, the ultimate consequence is another 1983 – Electoral Calculus allows you to do projections based on a Labour split, and the YouGov poll gives you:

Tories 363
Lab 164
SNP 43
TIG 41 (unlikely, but that’s what it gives)
NI 18
Lib Dem 16
Plaid 3
Green 1


GW - February 20, 2019

Any runs of the current Survation figures, Paul?


WorldbyStorm - February 20, 2019

I’m getting Tory 14 majority – ‘Centrists’ 9 332 Tory 233 Lab 12 Lib 1 GP


6. An Sionnach Fionn - February 20, 2019

The real winner here is the ERG/DUP axis at Westminster, which May and the Tory leadership will need more than ever to stay in power. A weakened Conservative Party, a weakened Labour Party, strengthens the Brexiteers’ hand at every vote.

A no-deal Brexit is moving from a possibility to a certainty.

While the UK media will focus on the ERG heavy-hitters, Rees-Mogg, Johnson, etc. in light of the resignation letter from the three Tory MPs the DUP will probably escape the worse of the examination since no one in the UK gives a damn that the DUP are up to their necks in Tory Leaver blood.

Liked by 2 people

7. Michael Carley - February 20, 2019
WorldbyStorm - February 20, 2019

That’s a superb piece – the point about class is spot on. As is the following:

“For months, campaigners on the Right insisted that the only way Corbyn could demonstrate his commitment to fighting antisemitism was by accepting the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism in full, despite the fact that even the original author of that definition had publicly disowned it as not fit for purpose, and Labour’s modification of it was a clear legal improvement. No sooner had the Labour NEC finally accepted the definition, then campaigners switched to claims that ‘complaints of antisemitism were not being properly investigated’, despite the evidence that complaints were now being investigated considerably more thoroughly than they were whilst the Right, under McNicol, retained control of the party bureaucracy.”

And this:

If the Labour leadership really wanted to engage with the current situation meaningfully, this is what it would do. It would not retreat into ideological purism. It would not lift another finger to prevent the Blairites from leaving the party. It would convene a national conference, inviting Greens, social democrats, communists, socialists, liberals, Scottish and Welsh nationalists, trade unionists, NGOs and others to discuss the political and social crisis facing the country. The explicit aim of the conference would be to find an inclusive and effective road-map to take the country beyond neoliberalism. Those who share no such commitment need not be included. But everyone who shares it should, including those stalwart social democrats of the old Labour right who retain some authentic commitment to a political objective other than defeating Corbynism. This would be a meaningful way of neutralising the charge that Labour is not a broad church, and would help to isolate those elements who want to claim the mantle of diversity in order to sustain the neoliberal order.


Michael Carley - February 20, 2019

That’s the thing: there is nothing Corbyn, or Labour as it is now, can do which will satisfy the splitters because the problem is the existence of any kind of class-conscious project.


WorldbyStorm - February 21, 2019



GW - February 21, 2019

Sure – Blaireite splitters were gonna split whatever.

However there is a great deal the BLP leadership could do to enhance their support among their members, voters and potential voters, a majority of whom are remainers.

That’s the problem – they are failing in the opportunity to create some kind of hegemony within the necessary broad constituency to come to power because of their (Milne & Corbyn’s) ideological purity on Brexit.


Michael Carley - February 21, 2019

Don’t think so. I think they are trying to hold their own voters together. They can afford to lose some Leavers, but not too many.


GW - February 21, 2019

Time will tell.


GW - February 21, 2019

Just in terms of the article above which rightly points out the need to establish a ‘progressive’ (I hate that word) hegemony. You won’t attract:

Greens, social democrats, communists, socialists, liberals, Scottish and Welsh nationalists, trade unionists, NGOs and others

while you maintain the Milne strategy on Brexit.


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