With the moderates in the Labour Party continuing their rebellion, Chuka Umunna, who has acted as one of the lynchpins, has told Jeremy Corbyn to ‘call off the dogs’. This came just a day after Tony Blair said that the party could ‘never be taken back’ by his ilk.
Yet the issue for Umunna is that everything he says nowadays when it comes to the party stinks of hypocrisy. On Twitter, he said “Was Labour founded to fight for working people or attack excellent MPs”, naming the recently deselected Joan Ryan as an example of what he presumably feels is a ‘witch hunt’. So its okay for him to attack anyone who’s even slightly more left-leaning than him, and for him to demonise the leadership, but when his friends are beyond criticism.
And this is the issue with the so-called ‘moderates’ in the Labour Party. Streeting, Hodge, Ryan and Umunna himself are just a few of the examples of these MPs who are committed not to getting in a Corbyn-led Labour government, but to effectively enable the Conservatives and stop Labour winning.
It’s perhaps interesting then that Umunna says the priority for Labour should be to fight Brexit. But surely a Labour ‘Soft’ Brexit is better than a Tory ‘Hard Brexit’, or heaven forbid a ‘no deal scenario’. Umunna’s protests are completely counterproductive. Doing fancy speeches for ‘Progress’, the right-wing Labour pressure group isn’t going to get you the Brexit that you want, neither is focusing all of your politics on attacking the only people capable of bringing down the Conservatives and stopping said Brexit. Corbyn may not be the most appetising for many, but he IS the only option to defeat the Tories, whether Ummuna likes it or not
With deselections looming for many more moderates, surely they must realise that the membership are upset by their actions? While these deselections serve Chuka’s case well, he can hardly argue that some of them are underserved. There is no doubt that Labour is a broad church. However, when MPs are actively working against the party, undermining the leadership and enabling the Tories, why should they be allowed to continue representing it?
I myself disagree with deselections, instead favouring Open Selection, championed by Momentum, where CLP’s can vote whether to allow the sitting MP to continue, or vote them out after each term. This is the way the party should go, making the whole process as open and democratic as possible. In fact, it will serve to improve the party as it may force MPs to work harder to keep their job.
And to assume that ‘all the moderates’ would be gone is wrong. For that to happen, you would have to presume that all of the moderate MPs CLP’s dislike them strongly, which as shown by the narrow 94-92 vote of no confidence in Joan Ryan, is most likely not the case. Being an MP should not be a job that is taken for granted, as it is by many MPs nowadays.
Chuka Umunna must embrace the party in its current form if he is to continue representing it. As he continues his threats to break away and fund a centrist party (for which there is no appetite), many feel he should go ahead and do it. A centrist party that nobody wants, funded by multi-billionaires who nobody like, and represented by politicians nobody respects, would do only one thing. Help the Tories. While it would take votes off them most likely, it would take far more off Labour. This new party would enable the Tories to do whatever they want with the country. Hard Brexit? It’d be easy for them. Austerity? Expect it to continue forever. No matter what, the whole concept of a new centrist party is not only flawed, it is counterproductive.
Umunna is a clever man, and a good politician who represents his supporters well. But the fact that he doesn’t realise that people don’t want a new centrist party baffles many. The failure of the Liberal Democrats to make any impact on the political atmosphere since the coalition shows how little people want a new party representing the middle ground.
Labour is still not quite there, a mess in many ways but a mess orchestrated by those opposed to Corbyn. The Mainstream Media’s smears have worked incredibly well for the centrist MPs within the party and its without a doubt that we haven’t heard the last of the ‘Progress’ politicians but the hypocritical campaign of the likes of Chuka Umunna and his friends only does one thing, help the Tories.