Okay, that headline is perhaps a bit crass. No one is trash, not in human terms, but in political terms, well, to put it politely, MPs can be surplus to requirements – and those who have left Labour certainly were that.
Surely that sounds counterproductive. Surely a political party wants as many MPs as possible on its side, doesn’t it? Well, yes, all political parties want that, but no one wants a player who is deliberately scoring own goals, who is sabotaging your side’s chance of winning. That was precisely what the Tinge UK defectors (and others) were doing to Labour, and it is why they won’t be missed.
When I first heard of splits in the Labour camp, they caught me off-guard. I’d naively assumed any Labour MP, regardless of internal political differences, was fully behind the Labour project, first and foremost, and would do whatever it takes to get Labour into government. I’d assumed both sides were being petty, and all that was needed was a little bridge building. I was not prepared for the complete lack of sincerity from the right wing (mostly Blairites) of the Labour Party. Their aim was quite clear: destroy Corbyn, even if it meant destroying Labour’s election chances, under the assumption they could pick up the pieces, and once again rebuild the party in Blair’s image.
Of course, they failed to take into account that Labour is a more democratic party now, with the membership involved in much decision making – and the membership’s views are completely at odds with the right wing of the party. Indeed, the Labour centrists might have some left wing social views, but their economics are definitely Tory-lite, free market, deregulate and privatise. Precisely the kind of economics which widened inequality and led to worldwide recession. Even the IMF is rejecting such thinking in favour of Scandinavian social-democratic principles.
Pushing left would appear to be the way forward, yet this is resisted by those in the Labour Party who would be more at home in the Liberal Democrats. And that’s precisely where Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger and others have found themselves, via a slight detour through the ill-fated centrist party – Change UK – which had the backing of Tony Blair, who is somehow still a Labour member, despite hating everything the current party stands for and stating he would struggle to vote Labour.
It would be much easier to respect these centrist MPs, if only they’d been honest from the start, but they weren’t – they engaged in smears and dirty tricks. Look at Luciana Berger, for example, who is pushing the line she was hounded out by Labour antisemites. She fails to mention a recent court case shows the four men convicted of racially harassing her, were far right and had absolutely no links to Labour whatsoever. I, and many others, in Labour would absolutely stand in solidarity with Luciana against these awful antisemitic loons, but instead she plays a slight of hand to imply we and them are one and the same. This is unacceptable.
What’s worse is this kind of smearing is pushed by Labour MPs like Jess Phillips, who recently on Twitter called ordinary Labour supporters “idiots the lot”. The reason? We challenged Jess on her reluctance to push for a Labour government in 2019. I,and others, asked Jess repeatedly if she was behind the fight for a Labour government in 2019 and she failed to answer. She then proceeded to launch four pile-ons against me, accusing me of sexism. My crime? I lost patience at one point and took the piss out of her using the suffix Esq – an idea she got from her mate Jacob Rees-Mogg. That’s the Tory pillock she was drinking champagne with at Rupert Murdoch’s mansion. Labour is supposed to be past the days of cosying up to Tories and media moguls. Jess isn’t. With Jess, it’s all about me-me-me.
And yet, I do not have anything personal against Jess, or any of the other Labour centrists. So often, we are accused of ideological purity, of wanting to drive out those who do not perfectly align with our views. Nothing could be further from the truth. We welcome those with a range of views, as long as they’re fighting for a Labour government and not scoring own goals. Our is not an unreasonable position. But what are we getting from the centrist mob? Well, when they’re not yelling “Broad church!” at us with no sense of irony, they’re smearing decent Labour members, calling us “dogs” and trying to purge us from the party.
Remember when Corbyn first took over and his supporters were being thrown out for sins as petty as swearing on social media? Ironically, Jess Phillips is free to swear on Twitter without objection, but I understand Kerry-Anne Mendoza was expelled simply for liking a post from the Green Party. Yes, thought crime. This is especially galling when you consider the Green Revolution is a central Labour manifesto pledge.
And of course, it gets even more sinister than purging decent people from the party – they go all out to smear the leadership and the party itself – creating the impression Labour is rife with antisemites, and showing utter contempt for our socialist beliefs in the process. Take Margaret Hodge who called Corbyn a “fucking antisemite and racist” and introduced over 300 antisemitism complaints to Labour, 90% of which had nothing to do with the party. Or consider how former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair now scoffs at the Labour manifesto, calling it an unaffordable wishlist, and suggesting the British public aren’t idiots, which in turn suggests ordinary Labour voters are idiots.
Blair fails to mention the manifesto was backed by 50 of the world’s leading economists, including Nobel Laureates, who wrote an open letter to the British public, endorsing Corbynomics. (A more recent letter published in the Financial Times was signed by 80 economists.)
One thing becomes abundantly clear – this gulf is not about ideological purity or spiteful Corbynistas – it is about an unbridgeable ideological gap.
When ordinary Labour members and supporters say they want the likes of Tom Watson, Wes Streeting, Jess Phillips, and Margaret Hodge to leave Labour, it’s because they want to drive us out. When we call them infiltrators, it’s because they’re neoliberals who infiltrated a socialist party and then had the audacity to smear socialists as infiltrators.
And when I joke the Lib Dems are taking our trash, I again, of course, only mean this in political terms. The Lib Dems are taking out those MPs who are hurting our party from within, and as such, they are doing us a huge favour.
I would therefore implore Jo Swinson to take the remaining Labour centrists with her, into their natural home in the Lib Dems, a place they should have been all along. They infiltrated a popular party in a cynical attempt to mop up the liberal and socialist vote while completely marginalising socialists in a socialist party.
As for those who now call themselves politically homeless, simply because the Lib Dems aren’t popular enough for their liking, cry me a river. Socialists were politically homeless for a long time because the establishment stole our voice. Well, now we’ve taken it back.