Current Affairs Politics

The Labour MPs Of The Independent Group. More Tory Than The Tories Themselves?

When it comes to politics, I’m pretty much your typical centre-left, social-democratic, wishy-washy, and occasionally hypocritical, bleeding heart liberal. I like my capitalism with a social conscience and my socialism with a free market opt-out. Yet, looking at the supposedly radical far-left policies of the Labour Party in neighbouring Britain, I find myself completely unperturbed. Where is the ideological extremism of Jeremy Corbyn and company? Virtually all of the objectives of the British Labour grouping lie within the mainstream of European progressive politics. Indeed, in countries like Sweden and Finland some of the Labour plans would be considered so conventional as to be utterly mundane. This is the militant tendency reborn? Or revolutionary communists on an entryist crusade?

The fuck it is.

This makes the decision by several MPs to resign from the Labour Party in London all but inexplicable. What did they find in the manifesto and leadership of the Corbyn-led organisation that was so offensive that they had to splinter off to form a separate grouping at Westminster? Antisemitism? Despite all the hype and hysteria, there is precious little evidence of institutional discrimination or animosity in Labour towards the British Jewish community. Certainly nothing worse than can be found in the Conservative Party or the Lib-Dems. The Irish Republican Army? Eh, the Troubles ended twenty years ago. Where have these people been for the last two decades? Are they aware of the history of the conflict in the north of Ireland or do they just get their knowledge from right-wing tabloids like the Daily Mail and the Express? Brexit? Ok. The attitude of the leadership of the Labour Party on the question of European Union membership is certainly up for debate. I suspect that some senior figures are sneaking Leavers. But the majority of the organisation’s legislators are Remainers and form the bedrock of opposition to the ultra-nationalist European Research Group (ERG) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in the House of Commons. Why abandon that solid bloc of pro-EU reformers in the parliament?

And now the would-be independents have been joined by three defecting Conservative Party MPs? As the Cedar Lounge Revolution rightly asks, how on earth did these individuals end up in the British Labour Party in the first place when some of the seven mavericks seem more Tory than the Tories themselves? Meanwhile the only real winners here are the ERG and DUP axis and their Brexiteer fellow travellers on both sides of the House of Commons.

23 comments on “The Labour MPs Of The Independent Group. More Tory Than The Tories Themselves?

  1. Blair tribute group “Tory Lite”? They have the potential to do much good/harm. If you licked Chuka Umunna’s head would it taste like a Malteser? Sod this I am off to write on Stakeknife.

  2. I think a lot of people feel Labour can’t move forward with Corbyn – he’s not electable. I suspect he’s a weak leader. He hasn’t taken a strong position on brexit – and in fact his opinion of the EU seems to have changed radically over the last few years, so I don’t trust his opinion. As for the conservatives, their party has changed since Brexit. They’ve shifted further to the right and things seem to have gotten pretty nasty. But who knows the real reasons… as a UK resident, I just want a people’s vote!

    • You might well be correct, in a British context at least. Britain seems to have swung towards the electoral right. However, the Corbyn leadership did increase the party’s vote and membership. And in the face of endless anti-Corbyn spin from the British press. Even the liberal contingent. That was no small feat.

      Should it really be the case that the right-leaning UK media decides who should or should not lead the Labour Party? In cahoots with a right-leaning minority of Labour legislators.

      And I say this as a moderate centre-left type.

      There is nothing in the current BLP manifesto that you couldn’t find elsewhere in mainstream centre-left European politics.

      Arguably Labour hasn’t swung left, the UK has swung right.

      As for the Tories. The Labour defectors are throwing their arms wide to welcome the Tory defectors. What does that tell you about their politics?

      The only winner here is the ERG/DUP axis in Westminster. A weakened Conservative Party and a weakened Labour Party leaves the solid Brexiteer bloc with the upper hand.

      I can’t see a peoples’ vote emerging. Not on the basis of reversing the 2016 plebiscite, anyway.

      • Grainne (grawn-ya) Shannon

        All good points. Indeed, losing hope for a second referendum now. But the EU, and Ireland, may ultimately benefit from a UK-free EU.

        • I’ve long thought that Grainne re a UK-free EU. Given the manner in which the Tories in particular pushed policy at EC/EU level it’s difficult not to think that their participation was a real problem almost from the off.

          • One prediction of I’ve is that this Saga will end when the Republic of England applies to join the UK.

          • One prediction I’ve heard from a number of people: This Saga will go on for many decades, but it will end someday. As The Republic of England applies for EU membership.

          • Grainne (grawn-ya) Shannon

            As someone said recently, the UK was in with a lot of opt-outs. Now they want to be out with a lot of opt-ins.

          • There was a time when the US government, especially several CIA veterans really encouraged Britain to join the EU. One CIA vet said, “Britain has lost an Empire and not figured out a new mission for itself in the world. Bringing her experience with Democracy and Markets to the EU project can give Britain a new direction.”

            Too bad it didn’t quite work out that way. Perhaps the mistake lay with presuming that Britain had changed more than it actually had on account of things like getting the shit bombed out of them by the Nazis, the inception of the NHS, and more. Then again perhaps Brexit, some of Britain’s actions in the E and even The Troubles were sufficiently unforeseable at that time, it was a case of “hindsight is always 20/20”.

            Either way, the US is may also see Britain as a less viable trading partner now that they are no longer connected to the EU-Canada, France, Ireland, and Spain might get some of the benefits if that happens.

      • It looks to me as if Corbyn might just not be cut out for the role he’s seeking. Being a weak leader isn’t always related to the left-right spectrum, which let’s face it has always had some limitations.
        He’s probably not a bad person for this, but he might not be all that well cut out to be the leader of a British Party Leader and thus likely Prime Mimister if they win out in a new election.

  3. The decisive factor with both the Labour and Conservative ratters is probably the EU, rather than other aspects of British politics. All support a second referendum, which both Tory and Labour leadership strongly oppose.

    Distrust of Corbyn and his inner group derives from their attitude to Communism. Corbyn had sentimental sympathies with the USSR and two of Corbyn’s senior advisers – Andrew Drummond-Murray, a supporter of the North Korean Kim dynasty, and Seamus Milne, an admirer of Joseph Stalin – were members of assorted Communist Parties and extollers of Leninist one-party states for decades and only joined the Labour Party after Corbyn became leader and offered them jobs. Both were employed for a long time by Len McClukey’s UNITE union..

    • I’d agree re Milne, but Corbyn came from a vaguely Trotskyist background so I think he’d have been a fair bit more critical of the USSR. Realistically Corbyn is a left social democrat in most ways – but the programme of the BLP today (as ASF notes above) is probably no further to the left than that under Jim Callaghan in the late 1970s. It’s not exactly red bloody revolution and I’m not sure that a more leftwing programme, at least a more substantively left wing programme, would be supported by the BLP membership. I was a member myself for a couple of years in the very early 1990s while in London and although a broad church its not the most radical party in the world – which is kind of virtue in my eyes.

      • Corbyn was – as you say – “vaguely Trotskyist”. Corbyn’s views don’t seem to be actually ideological, but to derive from a vague and undefined leftiiness – “whatever it is, I’m against it”.

        It’s the dirty secret of the left of the Labour Party; for all their rhetoric about democracy and workers’ control, they have a weakness for benevolent dictators and would-be benevolent dictators. Corbyn is fairly mild, in fact. Ken Livingstone, for example, cosied up to the vile Gerry Healy, and gave work to the WRP’s printing company and later explaned that he knew no more of Healy’s hobby of serial rape than any one else. True enough, but he did know Healy wanted to form a one-party state, imprison and execute alleged opponents and set up labour camps, because Healy had loudly and often said so. That didn’t matter, though, because Healy was “left-wing”.

      • People like that can often be surprisingly malleable in their POVs. Basically if a man toys without something as radical to a UK context as Trotskyism, half the time it won’t be so much a life-long ideology as a sign of being extremely susceptible to various influences.

        One relative of mine said that as a youngster he was at different times “a capitalist, a socialist, a Monarchist, a nationalism, an ant-communist, an anarchist and more”. It all came down to which book he had read most recently.

        Not everyone is that extreme of course. However, I’m not surprised that somebody like Corbyn might wildly change his ideology multiple times.

        • Folks should be under no illusion how unionist and right wing British Labour is.

          Yes Corbyn may have in the past expressed warm words in support of Irish republicanism, but he is correspondingdingly absolutely opposed to Scotland seeking independence. And in that he is as unionist as the staunchest Tory.

          Indeed, if an example be needed, my local West of Scotland Labour Party, and peopled with many third generation Irish as their names suggest, actually worked in common cause with the Orange Order to campaign, leaflet and poster against Scottish Independence.

          Corbyn is as pro British as Churchill in his support for the British state and London rule.

          That of course is one big reason why in Scotland the once mighty Labour party is now the third party with only a rump vote left .

          • Is it not the case that British Parites have no true leadership outside the elected MPs of that party?

            I would think that would mean neither one would be particularly disciplined. Heck, parties often struggle with that, even if they DO have leaders outside elected officials.

          • You can see the sense: if you support one island being united, presumably you take the same view of another!

  4. Which Island are you referring to Britain or Ireland?

    I’m not sure I’m following your logic either way?

  5. Wee Jim’s logic is impeccable. If your position is that you favour an island being united as Corbyn does with Scotland, Wales and England being the United Island of Great Britain, then across the water you support the United Island of Ireland Comprising the current ROI and NI.

    But the difficult bit of this elegant one island argument is that nearly half of the top bit of Britain, and the bit with the disproportionate resources don’t want to be a political part of the island.

    In fact, in nearly 2,000 years ago, a couple of Italian chaps called Hadrian and Antonine beat Donald Trump with idea of building a wall. Personally building bridges is a much better idea and again there is apparent historical precedent of Finbar McCool building the Giant’s Causeway.

    Bring back McCool, Hadrian, Antonine, and the Viking longboats is what I say. Let the Brexiteer isolate themselves so that the rest of us can get on with it guarding old Brexie’s Walls.

    • I don’t see how comparable Trump’s hair-brain scheme is to Hadrian’s Wall. For one thing the border between England and Scotland doesn’t run along a major continental river.

      Don’t a lot of people who want a United Ireland have at least a theoretical support for Scottish Independence?

  6. Sorry, let them ( ie the Br(it)s get on with guarding old Brexie’s walls to the tune of the Horst Wassel song.

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