Interesting times. While 8 MPs may not seem like much, they may well prove to be the first trickle of hope that made its way through the compacted u-bend of British politics in quite some time. The small group of tearaways, the rebellious teenagers running away from their (admittedly pretty broken) home, are chasing their dream of “Leaving the old tribal politics behind,” in the words of Chuka Umunna, the de facto leader of this new group.
Thank Christ someone had the balls to do it. In all honesty, this split has come so far down the line (although, curiously, not after March 29th) that the impact was dampened somewhat compared to what it could have been a few weeks ago. Additionally, it wasn’t helped by Umunna’s oration being slightly too scripted, slightly too camera-savvy, to be really effective during the defectors’ launch.
However, say what you will about the baying bunch of cretinous Tories that are destroying themselves over Brexit (and, possibly, the British economy with them), there has been a gaping chasm where an opposition should be. The Conservatives are a disaster, and Labour are no better.
Jeremy Corbyn has systematically failed to present any sort of challenge to Theresa May at the time where a strong, organised shadow government who holds our government accountable is desperately needed. Despite the facts and figures telling him that a majority of Labour MPs are in favour of a second referendum, he has stuck to his own Eurosceptic tendencies and ignored his own party.
He could, at any time, have proposed an alternative. He could have used common sense to argue in favour of an extension of Article 50. He could even have backed the dissenting murmurs within his own party and actively backed a People’s Vote. He could been pro-something, a lifeline, a new way of looking at the problem, anything, at any point.
Instead, all he did was point out the (many) flaws of Theresa May’s deal and negotiating style, spit vitriol and insults at her and those sat opposite him in the Commons, and refuse, time and again, to be drawn onto any one alternative strategy.
Was it because he wanted to keep his party united? They were already about as disjointed as an unconstructed IKEA shelf.
Was it because the Unions told him that a second referendum was not in their best interest? Some safe-seat Labour constituencies were admittedly largely in favour of Leave but when Theresa May proactively engaged the unions a few months ago they were largely in favour of a second referendum, or, failing that, a deal that safeguarded British jobs.
Or was it, really, because he is a coward?
I think we all know the answer, don’t we? What kind of leader fails, repeatedly, systematically, to denounce anti-Semitism?
We unfortunately live in a world where a select bunch of ill-informed, angry and foolish people try to disprove the horrors of the Holocaust, arguably the single most atrocious act of the 20th Century in the West.
…I know that there was also a veritable smorgasbord of horror that happened with various dictators across the century, not least with us Brits and the Empire. However, this was a systematic attempt to wipe out an entire race, carried out in the twentieth century, which was supposed to be a more enlightened age.
It still has not been 100 years since the Holocaust.
But these people, these idiots, exist today, in this supposedly enlightened world and choose to deny it. I believe that no-one is born bad and that people are largely an outcome of their upbringing but by golly by gosh do these morons make it hard to retain faith in humanity.
And these people, recently, seem to take up residency within the Labour Party. Not during Blair or Brown, or even Ed Milliband, but only in the last three years.
Why? You would have to think that any leader of any kind of moral fibre would find it reasonably easy to denounce something so objectively cruel and misguided.
Yet the leader of the Labour Party cannot bring himself to openly renounce anti-Semitism, apologising in August of last year only for the hurt that it caused and promising only to ‘Speed up the process of dealing with it.’
How has that gone, I wonder? Corbyn promised that in August, and yet here we are, with a respected and well-liked MP in Luciana Berger saying that she is, “Embarrassed and ashamed to remain in the Labour Party.” She has faced death-threats and unbearable abuse in her stance against anti-Semitism. She was the one who fought for the Party to recognise an internationally-recognised definition of anti-Semitism (which Corbyn never fully recognised). You would have thought that any party that had any real desire to lead with decency and morality would give her and her beliefs protection and support.
Yet here she is, walking away. What better example can there be for the utter failure of leadership that has come from Jeremy Corbyn than this? As someone who excitedly waited on the Corbyn bandwagon, believing him to have the potential to be the next Blair in terms of revolutionary charisma and politics, it is a disappointment beyond words.
When he stood on stage at Glastonbury, preaching the word of positive politics and having the entire crowd in the palm of his hand, he seemed messianic. Now, his total inability to lead his party has left him looking like an utter failure.
This article has been heavy on the anger towards Labour, but please do not think that I am biased. I am just as ashamed of the Conservative Party as I am of Labour.
I am ashamed of British politics, in fact. I am ashamed of what it has become, and what has happened to what used to be proud institutions of democracy and decency. These were deeply flawed institutions, make no mistake. Somewhere between WWII and where we are now, however, there was a time when Britain was held up as the epitome of political process, enshrined in a democracy that allowed progress to be made, but held itself accountable, too.
These days we are voting ourselves out of international power, out of economic strength and out of respect from our peers. The baffling stupidity of it all is demonstrated by the utter lack of any kind of leadership from anywhere. British politics, as we know it, is ruined.
However, to extricate yourself from an institution as all-encompassing as the Parliamentary behemoth out of principle alone deserves recognition. As an observer, I doff my cap to the newly-formed Independent Group.
As a British citizen, however, I pray to the gods of tea and crumpets that the rumours of other MPs, Labour and Conservative alike, being tempted to join them are true. We may well have come to the end of the traditional way of government and this might just be the start of a new form of politics, one that truly reflects the more enlightened and principled world we have the luxury of inhabiting in the West.
Let’s hope that this is a new dawn. Let’s hope that those rebellious teens, who pushed open the front door to see what’s outside, have stepped out into a bright new world.
Let us pray that it isn’t just a final, fizzling spark in the vacuum where decent governance used to be.
Now three Conservative MPs have joined the Independent Party. Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston have all resigned the Conservative Whip and written to the Prime Minister, telling her she’s doing an awful job, lol.
Full article to follow tomorrow. The spark is starting to glow a little bit brighter.