Over the past few days we have seen the reaction from the Labour hierarchy about the departure of, now 8 MPs, that have formed the Independent group. I have already commented on Tom Watson’s video that I thought pitched it about right, but it seems that is pretty much a lone voice, from everyone else all we hear is about the manifesto in 2017 and calls for a by-election. John McDonnell has suggested a “mammoth listening project” (what have you been doing for the past 3 years), but that’s as good as it gets. Now, to couple the Leader hiding from the PLP on Monday evening, our response is to look at forcing out MPs who quit the party. At what point is the leadership going to acknowledge that we have to do something, we have to acknowledge we have a bloody big problem, and take some actual bloody action!
I’m pissed off, so I will apologise now for some of my language. But we had an opportunity to make the best of a bad situation. We could have very easily said along the lines of “we are sorry that these MPs had to go and we have listened to their statements. Whilst it is too late for them, we recognise that we have some significant problems within the Labour Party and we will address them” And then go on to outline a programme of zero tolerance to the issues and support to those who are at the unpleasant end of it.
But no – All we are going on about is how they were elected on our 2017 manifesto. A manifesto that the public at large rejected and kept Teresa May in power when she should have been out on her ear. Yes we did much better than expected and everyone put their heart and soul into trying to return a Labour Government (I say everyone, that’s not quite true, but that’s history). However to keep going on about the manifesto is just getting embarrassing. This then leads into demands for by-elections – which again is completely missing the point. I would be sympathetic, but in the bigger picture, when people have defected to us, at all levels, not just parliamentary, then we have given them big open arms. To demand by-elections now will put people off ever crossing the floor to us.
Then we hit out with the careerist politician. For gods sake, how is it careerist to break away from a large party, with large personal majorities where the fight will be much harder, they will have to fight for every single vote at the next election instead of relying on the labour vote, there is a significant change that they will lose their seats, that’s hardly the move of a careerist politician.
We had a moment where Angela Smith screwed up her interview and came out with her “funny tinge” comment, but we double down with Labour MP Ruth George suggesting that the group may be getting funding from Israel AND then letting Derek Hatton back in the party after he pretty much screwed over the residents of Liverpool when he was on the City Council with illegal budgets and debt that wasn’t paid off until 2001.
We have a situation where the “Young Labour” twitter account is a sewer of filth and no-one can shut it off, the Jewish Labour Movement, who have been in the party for 99 years, are considering leaving and there are so many examples of abuse and gutter language from members and supporters that is quite awful.
We need to step away from the “but sir, they are not playing the game” type of rhetoric. We must listen, acknowledge the problem and lay out how we are going to deal with it. Already this new group has 10% polling and they haven’t even set up a party as such yet. And if our response to that is “but polls are Tory owned” or “they are inaccurate” or any other excuse, then we are truly screwed!