Betrayal: Seven MPs Quit Labour
Seven MPs, elected because they were on the Labour ticket , have decided to abandon our Labour Party and stand as independents. They are:
Their excuses for betraying those who voted for them as Labour MPs are - the Labour leadership’s attitude to Brexit and allegedly institutional antisemitism within the Party.
On seeing these names many activists will be inclined to mutter, ‘Good riddance’. That would be a mistake. As John McDonnell commented recently, “In my constituency in Hayes and Harlington, we had a Labour MP join the SDP and we lost the seat to the Conservatives....And it basically installed Mrs. Thatcher in power for that decade.”
Is that what the far from magnificent want- to perpetuate this Tory government? Clearly they don’t care.
John went on, “On all the issues people have raised as a reason for a split, we’re dealing with [them]. For example on Brexit we’re holding the party together. Those saying we’ll split over a people’s vote, well, we’ve still kept that option on the table and it might come about. Why split over that? It’s ridiculous,”
The LRC is quite clear that our preferred way out of the current Parliamentary deadlock on Brexit is a general election. That would enable Labour to campaign on all the issues that afflict the country – the housing crisis, the catastrophe of Universal Credit and all the other issues that have been marginalised by the Brexit debate. Even if a second referendum were to emerge as a realistic prospect, how does the desertion of the seven make that outcome more likely? It is, quite simply, tactically stupid.
The seven have no programme and no manifesto, only a common disgruntlement with the present Labour leadership. All were elected on the 2017 Party programme, For the Many, Not the Few, which specifically pledged that, “Labour accepts the referendum result. “ Now they reject it. Will they resign their seats and stand as independents in order to test ‘the people’s will’? There is no sign that they will risk it.
Luciana Berger has suffered anti-Semitic abuse on social media. She has not been slow to hint that it all comes from her critics inside the local Labour Party, though she has not presented any evidence. In fact as David Rosenberg’s article which we posted (Liverpool Wavertree and Luciana Berger: the facts) pointed out, “In a recent radio interview Berger was asked 10 times if she would welcome a Corbyn-led Labour Government. She kept evading the question, saying ‘well, Brexit’”. What disloyalty! It is hardly surprising that her local Party was on the point of moving a vote of no confidence in her last week. Now she’s gone.
Chris Leslie and Mike Gapes both voted for the murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians in 2003, as did Ann Coffey. Now they have the cheek to lecture the present Labour leadership about morality. Gapes has refused to apologise for the war and has consistently opposed any investigation into how we were lied to in order to justify the invasion, as have Angela Smith and Gavin Shuker.
Gavin Shuker had a motion of no confidence in him passed overwhelmingly by his local Luton South Labour Party last year. He commented contemptuously “It’s not part of any formal procedure, so it changes nothing about my role as Labour MP for Luton South." Now he has jumped before he could be pushed.
Angela Smith is so right wing that she opposed the renationalisation of water on the grounds that it risked “cutting investment in the sector to raise environmental standards.” This is preposterous. On the other hand she supports fracking - what about the environmental impact there? A plotter in the chicken coup against Corbyn in 2016, her local Party voted a motion of no confidence against her for serial disloyalty last year.
Ann Coffey was revealed to be extremely greedy in the MPs’ expenses scandal of 2009. On top of her £60,000 salary she claimed £150,000 for staff salaries and office costs. OK for some. She submitted a motion of no confidence against Jeremy to the Parliamentary Labour Party in 2016.
As to Chuka Umunna: where do we start? Despite campaigning against the spread of betting shops he took a backhander of £20,000 from a gambling executive. He briefly put his name forward in the 2015 leadership contest before mysteriously withdrawing his candidacy.
As to allegations of Labour antisemitism, the other main complaint of the seven, Umunna said in 2016, “Some have suggested there is institutional antisemitism across the whole of the Labour Party - this is not a view I share, not least because I have not seen one incident of antisemitism in almost 20 years of activism.” Now he says the opposite. Which Chuka are we to believe?
The intrigue has been long in the making. According to Skwawkbox the new Independent Group’s website was set up in 2015 in the tax haven of Panama.
Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the walk has been measured, dignified and regretful:
“I am disappointed that these MPs have felt unable to continue to work together for the Labour policies that inspired millions at the last election and saw us increase our vote by the largest share since 1945.
Labour won people over on a programme for the many not the few – redistributing wealth and power, taking vital resources into public ownership, investing in every region and nation, and tackling climate change.
The Conservative Government is bungling Brexit, while Labour has set out a unifying and credible alternative plan. When millions are facing the misery of Universal Credit, rising crime, homelessness and poverty, now more than ever is the time to bring people together to build a better future for us all.”
The split of the Social Democratic Party from Labour in 1981 was a tragedy that kept the Tories in power throughout the 1980s. Now the SDP has disappeared. But the SDP was a group of heavy weight politicians from the right wing of the Labour Party. This lot are not only serial conspirators and plotters; they are light weights. They don’t know what they want, only what they don’t like. They are eaten up with rancour. With a bit of luck they’ll disappear without trace a good deal quicker than the SDP.