Monday 18 February 2019

When a political split is not a political split...

So Chuka Umunna and his merry band have finally done what they have been threatening for a few years and left the Labour party.

The thing is, what will this change and do they really mean it?

I think there are some clear tells here that this is a cosmetic split, for Westminster Theatre only. here is why:

1) No By-Elections. So they are happy to try as a group to limp on until the next election without asking the people. All principled people who quit then go for a by-election, it smacks of a lack of principle or that re-joining Labour is really on the cards in a few months.

2) Crap Name - The Independent Group. You could not stand on this anyway in an election, so either they think some Tories are going to join them or else they are never planning to stand for an election.

3) Policy - Their sad little 'ideals' leaflet is bereft of anything meaningful apart from anti-semitism as a thing to stop. Will they vote with the Tories at all? No. So in practical effect it is a split that will result in no change, I would accept there is a chance they will vote giant Brexit if Labour agree to a May compromise at the last minute, that may then be 'a thing.'

So all in all, a real non-event, I guess there is a small chance some loony Tories who are also headed for de-selection like Sarah Woolaston and Nick Boles, decide to throw their lot in, as they are selfish enough to also not go for By-Elections.

In reality, there is a noise now, everyone except Bubble Westminster journalists will ignore them, and they will either re-join Labour or lose all their seats when we have an election. So, nothing to see here.

Meanwhile, Nigel Farage's new Brexit party has no MP's to bait Westminster but 100,000 members already...that seems a better bet to influence the next election than this rag-tag mob.


Al said...

Not convinced its a non-story:

Won't they have far more power as a group like this as they can now be courted by the conservatives (see DUP playbook).

They become a holding group for any other existing Labour MPs that face deselection (Corbyn may think twice about further moderate de-selections).

If they can get some local pork barrelling done as TM has recently indicated may be available for leave leaning Labour constituencies, then they have a fighting chance of being re-elected (also see DUP playbook again).

If they don't get reselected then they can switch to Labor swing seats where the existing MP is pro-Corbyn and have a good chance of being elected.

Not sure how much of a problem funding will be as they will have big business & Tony Blair et al potentially backing them.

They will be able to scoop up lots of disenchanted Labour/Tory remain voters should no-deal happen.

They will also counter the ERG and DUP, allowing the Tories to move more toward the center ground.

Bill Quango MP said...

Not sure about this.
Standing as party that is wetter than the Lib Dems doesn't seem much of a USP.

Good point about a rally point for disaffected MOS. Though, the real time for action was when the Korbyn coup took place and all his ministers resigned. Labour should have split then and left the rump Corbynistas to fight on their far left platform.

Clearly the money was a major issue. The unions being some 80% for communists.

This table for seven split looks as weak and ineffective as it is.

Though who knows what has been going on behind the scenes? How many hand wringing Tories and unhappy liberals have promised to join the court of Chukka.

Though it does look hopelessly amateur. Not so much the king over the water as the Prince over the river. Vauxhall bridge and keep going south for a bit.

Anonymous said...

Strikes me as something of a watershed. The anti-Brexit squad have had no real route to express themselves at a party level - no Lib Dems, I've not forgotten you, but relevance has.

So whilst I see this TIG going nowhere in and of itself, I do see it as cast dice that may draw others to the table to try their luck. Could be the moment where things change. Could be where the Labour Party gets hollowed out, leaving the Corbynistas just the brand and the shell. Could be where we see a new pro-EU party form. Could just be where seven politicians have taken their political careers round back of the woodshed.

As for TIG - surely no spin quacks were involved? As the members are now TIGgers. Maybe they can hook up with Xi 'Winnie the Pooh' Jinping at Hundred Acre Wood?

Raedwald said...

Wusses. Echo the comments above - but to see just how *few* of the Parliamentary anti-Corbynistas have signed up to this damp puddle see te Grauniad's excellent graphics at

As for the BrexitCorp organisation, I don't believe it has as yet a single member, despite what the Sun says - they have a piss-poor kitchen table website almost unknown to the search engines and a web-form to register interest as either 'supporter' 'donor' 'activist' or 'candidate' - no mention of members, no application process

So, 100k may have registered their interest, but the BrexitCorp lady has made it clear they don't want inconvenient, argumentative members - just an appointed board and a list of obedient candidates, which together with two or three big shareholders will launch BrexitCorp into UK plitics ...

AndrewZ said...

I don't think it will be so easy for them to re-join Labour in a few months even if they want to. Momentum is already trying to deselect any remaining centrists who won't show unconditional loyalty to the new regime so it won't waste the opportunity to get rid of seven of them at once. Many other people in the party will also want to punish them for their disloyalty so they won't be welcomed back.

I suspect that the TIG name is just a placeholder while they wait to see who else is willing to join them. If they are hoping to attract some disaffected Tories or LibDems then they can't define their brand until they know who is actually going to be involved and what compromises will have to be made between them.

I've no doubt that "big business & Tony Blair et al" will provide the money if enough MPs join the group, and it will then have the means to build up a slick and professional campaigning organisation in a very short time.

L fairfax said...

I don't believe Nigel Farage has 100K members for his party.

andrew said...

I think they are gambling on Corbyn not getting a majority in '22.

a) con majority - they were shown to be right
b) con minority - pork for the constituents
c) lab minority - they are needed

and that is likely to pay off.

On first reading I did ask myself "what are they for" - and could not think of anything. This is wrong, late 20th century thinking.

The question is what are they _against_ and being vaguely leftish but against corbyn and brexit (and how well do you think that will have gone by 2022?) are actually pretty well placed.

Anonymous said...

What strikes me most is the poor quality of the people involved this time, compared to the Gang of Four.

Don Cox

Anonymous said...

It is probable they have the made the move now with the Brexit Parliamentary voting in mind.
Mandelson is pulling some strings somewhere and isn't Chuckup a consultant to a Blair charidee or similar?
I have little doubt there is a plan.

Anonymous said...

Wollaston is indeed headed for deselection: one gathers there is much discontent in her rural constituency, unsurprising since she did an about-face very shortly before the referendum, and just about everything she says suggests she'd be more at home in the LibDems. Perhaps she would find it easier to dress up an alignment with this new Playground Gang Of Seven as "principled", compared with openly joining the LDs...
I agree TIG is unlikely to have legs. I hope you're right about Farage's new outfit having more traction.

Y Ddraig Goch said...

RE: andrew @ 3:02pm

"I think they are gambling on Corbyn not getting a majority in '22."

OK, but how do they get through the election themselves?

If they persevere with the "independent" idea, then at the next GE they will
be standing against the usual Conservative/LibDem/whatever rivals plus a
candidate from Corbyn's Labour. They will also need to obtain funding and
local activists from somewhere. That is not an easy path back to Westminster.

If they somehow drift back to Labour - or even do some kind of deal in
particular seats - then this is just another, typically Blairite, empty gesture
in which they put on a show of "leaving" without actually leaving.

And if they throw in their lot with an existing party then why didn't they do
that straight away?

I still don't see where this is intended to go.

Anonymous said...

The splitters are approaching things from two political factions, albeit factions with a huge overlap

a) "Corbyn's anti-semitism" i.e. Corbyn's failure to follow the Blair/Cameron/May 110% support for Israel no matter how many people they shoot at the border or sling out of their homes (the sort of things that done by Trump would give them conniptions)

b)"stay in EU by hook or by crook" - votes until the right result is reached

Y Ddraig Goch - "they will also need to obtain funding" - that won't be a problem at all thanks to a), and b) will provide the activists - a mixture of idealistic one-worlder students and probably Lib Dem activists