Seven MPs have quit the Labour Party today, citing the Party’s Brexit strategy and failure to tackle Antisemitism as the issues behind their decision. But are these really the reasons they’ve made like a Banana and split? The right of the party have form on this. When Labour were on track to win a GE under Michael Foot, the gang of four, supported vociferously by a terrified establishment, formed a new party to split the left vote. The right of the Party only approve of broad churches when they are the Arch Bishops and the left are the altar boys – seen but not heard.
Even before Corbyn’s first leadership win, the right of the party have been doing everything in their power to sabotage a Corbyn led Labour Party. They have blamed Corbyn for everything from misogynistic trolling and Antisemitism to Brexit, in their bid to lose him support. That’s not to say Antisemitism does not exist. Recent figures revealed that 0.1% of the current membership have been investigated or disciplined for Antisemitism, and both MPs and members are divided over Brexit. However both Antisemitism and divisions over Brexit exist in wider society, therefore it is nigh on impossible for Labour to be free of these issues entirely. That’s not to say more can’t be done. But if these MPs felt strongly enough about turning Labour around, they should have stayed to fight for change from within, just like so many Left wing MPs did when they were in despair over the pro-war, pro-privatisation agenda of the New Labour government. The fact they have left, tells you this isn’t about those things, it’s about the leaving, and the damage that can be done to Labour through their leaving. Its about splitting the left vote, just as it was in 1981. This is history repeating itself.
The response to this split has been reasonably calm on twitter. Yes, there is anger and indignation. The vast majority of members do not recognise Luciana Berger’s description of their party as institutionally Antisemitic, and that includes Jewish members. The implication for them is they are staying in a Jew hating party, which must be a particularly distressing accusation to have levelled at you if you are Jewish. The members are keenly aware there are major divisions over Brexit, but have huge respect for eachother and MPs across the Brexit divide, such as Clive Lewis and Dennis Skinner. So the members see through these disingenuous claims.
One major reason for the calm, is the fact this has been a long time coming. These MPs were always going to work relentlessly to damage us within the party (see screenshots below), so they might as well do it from the outside. They could never accept Corbyn’s leadership. They are not socialists and don’t approve of our direction of travel. They are like spoilt children who want to trash the Party now they are no longer in charge. And they are hypocrites. They shout repeatedly for a ‘People’s Vote’ because they claim people need a say on the changed circumstances of Brexit, but won’t call by-elections now they are no longer Labour MPs. They only support democracy when it goes their way, and we are sadly, better off without them.