Turns out that my previous post was closer to the event than I had anticipated. The news that 7 MP’s have resigned from the Labour Party has filled me with disappointment, not only because of the fact they have left, but because of the way that the majority are reacting to it, with some notable exceptions. So while we do not have have a new Party as such, Parliament has a new MP grouping – the Independent Group.
Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, and Ann Coffey all announced at a mid-morning press conference that they had resigned from the party. Each gave a very personal account about their history with the Labour Party, and being rather damning about the current atmosphere in the party, the lack of action on anti-semitism, the complicit nature of our actions on Brexit and generally gave voice to “enough is enough”.
In many ways, this should not come as a surprise. In fact, as I commented tot he BBC earlier today, the surprise is that it has taken this long. From my own personal experience I know how nasty some of the membership now is, and I only got a small dose of the nastiness of what the likes of Luciana has had to, and is still going through. When many MPs and members are being called red Tories, and told to leave and join the Tories, then it should come as no surprise when patience runs thin, and they do leave.
But what does this really mean for Labour Politics, whilst today and the next few days will clearly put a spotlight on this, will there be a long term effect? I think its too early to say – it is clear that the Leadership is rattled, with an email to the membership and already laying the groundwork for laying any future blame for anything at the “magnificent 7”. But unless the group grows, and more importantly it lays out the values that it will work (see my previous blog post), then it might just be a distraction.
What is disappointing from a membership perspective is two fold – Firstly that the abuse on social media is disgusting. Secondly, that with only a couple of notable exceptions, the leadership is not going to reflect on this at all and see what culpability they have in this, how they have not dealt with any of these issues decisively and they effectively dared these MPs to do this, and the Labour Party lost!
I keep mentioning notable exceptions. There have been good messages from Jess Phillips and Alison McGovern stating that they understand and empathise, but the most notable message has come from Tom Watson. Many will know I’m not a huge fan of Tom, but this video I think captures the issue very well.
Will this go the way of the SDP, its too soon to tell, I think many in the Labour Party hope it does fizzle out because already I know there are a lot of people in the groups that I am a member of are fizzling with excitement and optimism, not something we have seem much of in the past couple of years.
Fundamentally this might make us realise that the Labour Party does not have a divine right to exist, never mind be the official opposition or be back at Number 10.