On Monday, the 18th of February at 10 am, in the heart of Westminster, seven Labour MPs broke away from the parliamentary party to form a new group of independent MPs. Creatively named The Independent Group, these MPs have left for reasons such as not agreeing with Labour’s stance on Brexit, its views on international issues and accusations that the party is institutionally racist regarding anti-semitism.
For over 30 minutes the seven MPs told their life stories; in the frankly amateur presentation, they made it clear that they would no longer be part of the Labour Party.
Waitrose-shopping, middle-class British people on stage saying how they felt they stood against racism, to remain in the European Union and against Corbyn’s leadership. None of them have a public image or a history, like Corbyn or Abbott, of fighting racism. Why now the sudden change of heart?
The star studded line up
First was Luciana Berger, who announced to the handpicked group of journalists that she was leaving due to rafts of antisemitism. She claimed this is why she doesn’t want to continue as a Labour MP. She criticised the leadership on their record of dealing with antisemitism.
Of course, it’s no coincidence that Berger was facing, not one but two, votes of no confidence earlier this month from her CLP.
She has been the victim of antisemitism, there is no doubting that, but you cannot avoid it or deal with it from outside the party.
Then came Chris Leslie, MP for Nottingham East; he was also on the losing side of a vote of no confidence in 2018. He is one of the most disliked MPs, by the membership, as he is ideologically aligned more with the Tories than the Labour Party.
A few MPs, who many have never heard of, continued the storytelling with as much enthusiasm as a dead cat. They claimed that they stood for social mobility and against inequality. Which is what I thought the Labour Party stood for? Maybe too much for them? There is a feeling these MPs will never be heard of again. This is probably as good as their career gets.
One of these MPs, Angela Smith, was later interviewed on the BBC after the morning‘s presentation. She can be found saying that it is not about being black or ‘funny tinged’… Safe to say this group has got off to a brilliant start...
Mike Gapes then took to the stage. He has consistently tried to undermine Jeremy Corbyn since he was elected as leader back in 2015. Gapes has a love for shouting down members on Twitter by calling them Trotskyist and Stalinists.
In his speech he said that he disagreed with the leadership, and the party’s, approach to international relations regarding countries such as Syria and Venezuela. This is all coming from a Labour MP who voted for the Iraq war - and also voted against opening an investigation into how the Iraq war was illegal.
A number of weeks ago Gapes opened up dialogue in the House of Commons by calling the Labour front bench Stalinist, Trotskyist and anti-Semites, all because he disagreed with their view on Venezuela and not supporting the US backed, self declared President. A complaint was sent signed by hundreds of Labour members complaining about him.
He then went on to say that he felt Labour was on the wrong side of history. If history has anything to prove, it is that Jeremy Corbyn has been on the right side of history throughout his long career as an MP.
Then lastly there was the Tony Blair worshipping, plastic politician Chuka Umunna who has previously referred to Labour members as ’dogs’, and poor people as ‘trash’. He recently lost control of his constituency Labour Party when they voted to change the format of meetings. The format change would be to his disadvantage and could open up the possibility of no-confidence motions.
During his speech he was appealing to voters who do not feel represented by the two major parties; it was obvious from the start that this brand of beige centrism will try to appeal to the frustrated remain-voting middle class England. As this was going on, a BBC microphone remain turned on and recorded another journalist saying, what most Labour members were thinking, that they were all ‘mad’ and ‘fucked’.
The group of MPs, since dubbed ‘the insignificant seven’, gave out their message claiming that they were not backed by big money. Yet they refuse to say who their backers are.
They pleaded with the public, and other MPs, to come forward and change politics. They did this by inviting people to help them form policies and build a new ‘common sense’ political party.
The future is…
An unimaginative name that sounds like a questionable group of lawyers, also includes no policies, vanilla promises and a website that did not work at the time of the press conference. It is quite clear that this group of MPs are not politically aligned with the Labour Party and that sooner or later this would’ve happened.
Rumours on the Internet are circulating that they know they are not big enough to win many seats in the event of a general election. However, many feel that this is not their intention.
Several commentators have pointed out that their intention is to stop a left led Labour government from ever happening. Many fear that they will stand in marginal seats to try and split the Labour vote which would hand seats to the Conservative party.
Speculation on this strategy shows that this group is just out to make trouble for the Labour Party. If you look at any of these MP’s track records over the last three years you will clearly see that they are not liked by the membership and that they have consistently tried to undermine the Labour Party and its new shared goals. Which they are not a part of.
It is safe to say that this news is a change from Brexit which the public is sick of. However, the only people that seem to be excited by this new group are Labour members themselves. Excitement has gone through the roof that Labour will eventually be able to stand candidates that are more representative of the Labour Party and the constituency. Not career politicians clinging to the 1990s’.
The truth is these people already left the Labour Party when they decided to start undermining its common goal. To be the party for the many.
This is what they fear, a democratic member-led Labour government getting into power, because it undermines their one true goal as liberals of the establishment – to have some form of power and be there for businesses.
This is why we need Open Selection. To get rid of people like this that don’t want to be in the Labour Party.
Centrist Politics is not the answer
Centrist politics is dead; they have no policies that attract voters and they speak into a void that does not answer back. The Liberal Democrats are struggling and Macron in France is increasingly unpopular. What do they have to offer that is different from establishment politics? This is politics that caused the likes of Brexit and Trump. Take a look at Hilary Clinton.
Since the ‘split’ a whole raft of centre left and left MPs continue to condemn the actions of the seven, feeling betrayed and saying that they should have stayed to fight for their cause. On the other hand, there are rumours of more resignations to come.
If they were so sure of their popularity and being the answer to the Britain’s problems, then they would call by-elections in their seats to get re-elected, but they have not.
This is just another attempt to try and stop what they know they cannot achieve. A government that will take Britain forward in the world not keep it floating in the grey capitalist status quo.
Jeremy Corbyn has responded with a call for unity in the party and for us to concentrate on fighting the real enemy which is the Conservative party. Now that these people have left we can get on with the real task of getting a Labour government elected.
These seven people stand for the neoliberal capitalist loving type politics that made the UK feel disenfranchised with politics in the first place.
Their main message is to fix a broken politics, yet they are not smart enough to realize that they are the reason it was broken in the first place.