MPs face up to the rancid reality of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour revolution
DAN HODGES: At last… his MPs face up to the rancid reality of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour revolution
- Up to 20 Labour MPs are preparing to break with their party over Corbynism
- The latest anti-Semitic drama was the tipping point for fed-up moderates
- They are also fed up with the relentless, living nightmare that is Corbynism
- Also fears Corbyn and Unite union are planning mass deselections of rebel MPs
Labour’s moderates have finally snapped. ‘The Corbynites have miscalculated,’ one senior rebel explained to me on Friday.
‘They thought we had no option but to stick with the party. That, because nobody walked, we would just sit back and take it.
‘Well, that’s not going to happen any more. This is the last summer with the Labour Party in its current form.’
Up to 20 Labour MPs are preparing to break with their party over Corbynism
The breaking point has proven to be the latest grotesque chapter in Labour’s ongoing anti-Semitism crisis.
Last week, the Corbynites successfully redefined how to hate Jews. Sections of the internationally recognised IHRA definition on anti-Semitism were rewritten by Labour’s ruling executive to allow party members to oppose Israel’s right to exist and brand Jews ‘Nazis’.
Accusing Jews of being traitors to the UK was – according to the party – no longer anti-Semitic, just a bit ‘wrong’.
As another moderate told me: ‘It’s not about politics. It’s about when I get up in the morning, can I look at myself in the mirror.’ A colleague said: ‘I’m now a member of a racist party. And I can’t accept that.’
Anti-Semitism has proven the catalyst. But other factors have convinced what I’m told is an initial tranche of between a dozen and 20 MPs to take the fateful decision to break with their party.
One is the realisation that proposed constitutional changes by the Corbynites mean Labour is beyond resuscitation. According to a former Shadow Minister: ‘It’s time to face facts. We’re not getting our party back.’
Jeremy Corbyn faced mounting anger over Labour’s anti-Semitism row last night as it emerged the dispute has led to a bizarre call to throw him off his allotment
A second is that the final pieces are being moved into place to begin a round of symbolic deselections. Discretely, the Unite trade union has been creating numerous affiliated ‘branches’ in key constituencies.
As soon as Team Corbyn gives the nod, Len McCluskey will issue the order, and the cull will commence.
And then there is the sheer mental and physical exhaustion of enduring the relentless, living nightmare that is Corbynism.
‘People are aware what this means,’ said one MP. ‘It involves potentially sacrificing careers, and walking away from a party many have been members of for decades.
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‘But we’ve come to the view that being on the outside can’t be worse than remaining on the inside. This just can’t go on.’
There will be no move immediately. Those who have signed-up to be the first wave of Labour’s liberation movement intend to tread carefully.
‘We have to do this properly,’ one said. ‘There’s no point charging off randomly in the middle of summer recess. People need to sit down, get a plan in place, and then launch it properly.’
A fundamental part of this is what form the initial breakaway will take, with a range of options being considered.
The latest anti-Semitic drama was the tipping point for fed-up moderates who are planning to leave the party in the near future
At one end of the spectrum is a formal, public disavowal of Corbyn. Under this proposal, the breakaway grouping would issue a public declaration they would not support him in a confidence motion and would never vote for his elevation to Prime Minister – similar to the pledge Barrow MP John Woodcock made at the last Election, before resigning from the party a fortnight ago.
A second option is a formal resignation of the Labour whip, and establishment of an independent parliamentary grouping.
This would be followed by a direct challenge to Labour in a subsequent Election by some of the group’s members, and by a departure from politics for others.
And then there is that hardy progressive perennial, the establishment of a new political party.
I’m told this remains live, and that covert discussions are taking place across party lines, as well as within Labour’s moderate faction.
‘It’s been a bit odd,’ says an MP privy to this delicate courtship. ‘You’ll have a senior Minister coming up to you, saying, ‘This is a disaster, the Conservative Party’s about to split. We need to talk about doing something together.’
The next day one of our lot will go up to one of them and say, ‘God, you think you’ve got it bad. It’s horrendous over here. You and I have got to find a way of pulling in the same direction.’ ‘
But at the moment, Labour moderates are focusing on their initial escape from the Corbynite Gulag.
‘Yes, people are talking about a new party,’ said one, ‘but the first thing we need to do is break from Corbyn in a clean and public way, and a way that the allows the British people to understand that we believe this man is a danger to the country.’
The moderates currently have two dates ringed. One is this September, when the Parliamentary Labour Party is scheduled to pass a motion writing the full IHRA anti-Semitism definition into its own standing-orders.
They will then dare the Corbyn dominated NEC to rescind their decision. ‘This is the moment,’ one MP said. ‘Either Corbyn backs down – unlikely – or that’s the trigger.’
One is the realisation that proposed constitutional changes by the Corbynites mean Labour is beyond resuscitation. According to a former Shadow Minister: ‘It’s time to face facts. We’re not getting our party back’
The next highlighted date is March 29, 2019, and a second moment of decision – on Brexit.
‘However it plays out, it seems pretty certain we’re going to be leaving on that date,’ says a Labour Remainer, ‘and at that point there’s no reason to put things off any longer.’
The members of the Labour first wave are less concerned at the reaction of the Corbynites – ‘we know they’re coming for us whatever happens’ – than they are at the response of their more malleable colleagues.
‘The problem is those MPs like Tom Watson and John Spellar who think this is just a rerun of the 1980s. They think all we have to do is keep our heads down for ten to 15 years, and then everything will sort itself out,’ one lamented.
Labour does not have 15 years. It may not have 15 months. This week I spoke to a senior member of the Jewish community. For the first time, his anger was not directed solely at Corbyn, but also at his community’s erstwhile allies.
‘What will it take before they act?’ he said. ‘Do they need to put us in Parliament Square and start lining us up?’
Hopefully not. Enough really is enough. The days of thinking it is possible to simultaneously challenge Corbyn while working for his election as Prime Minister are over. As is the currency of the tired mantra ‘I’m not leaving, it’s my party.’
If you are a moderate, it’s not your party. I had a front-row seat during a previous Labour takeover – the transformation to New Labour.
The likes of Dennis Skinner and, yes, Corbyn, were encouraged to make the same self-satisfied protestation. At worst they were tolerated, at best indulged. And for one purpose.
To con the Left this was also ‘their’ party. To convince them to break their shoulders upon the New Labour wheel. And it worked. New Labour would not have achieved half as much without them.
That is the role the moderates are playing in today’s Labour. The Corbynites have different tactics. They prefer intimidation to flattery and detached tolerance.
But their strategy is the same. To fool moderate Labour supporters into believing they still have a stake in the rancid, anti-Semitic cesspit of Corbynism.
This weekend, dozens of Labour MPs are realising they do not. If we take them at their word, we are witnessing Labour’s last summer.
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