Friday, 22 February 2019

Getting It Right

No one is more easily replaceable than a Member of Parliament, and Labour is openly glad to see the backs of the ones who are currently seceding. 

Even if they all went, then they would all lose their seats, occasionally to whoever was currently in second place, but in most cases to the Labour candidates. And they can refuse to hold by-elections, but there does have to be a General Election eventually. If the position espoused by the Independent Group cannot hold Streatham, then it cannot hold anywhere. And it is not going to hold Streatham.

Labour, you see, is perfectly comfortable with the suggestion that it is left-wing. "Right-wing", by contrast, is now a term of abuse in both parties, in the way that "liberal" is in the United States. American liberals furiously deny that they are liberal, and British right-wingers furiously deny that they are right-wing. 

Theresa May and her supporters, who include two thirds of Conservative MPs and, as set out below, most of the party in the country, are mortified at the suggestion of the three defectors that they are right-wing at all, still less that they are as far to the right as Jeremy Corbyn is to the left.

For that is the logic, openly stated, of the Independent Group's position. As Corbyn is beyond the Outer Left, so May is beyond the Outer Right. Not Nigel Farage. Not Boris Johnson. Not Jacob Rees-Mogg. Theresa May.

And that, in turn, is now the position of The Times and of The Guardian, of the Financial Times and of The Economist, of the BBC and of Sky News: Corbyn and May are the opposite extremes, so that no political life does or could exist to the left of him, while no political life does or could exist to the right of her.

Therefore, you will not be seeing or hearing Farage, Johnson or Rees-Mogg again for a very long time, if ever. They will continue to appear in the Daily Telegraph, as whoever appears in the Socialist Worker appears in the Socialist Worker. But that will be all. Like whoever appears in the Socialist Worker, Farage, Johnson and Rees-Mogg do not officially exist.

It is true that the choice of the next Conservative Leader will be made by the members. But it will be made between the two highest scoring candidates in a ballot of Conservative MPs. Neither of those candidates will be a person to the right of an outgoing Leader who, despite being Prime Minister, is now officially designated by the Establishment as not at, but beyond, the right flank of acceptable political debate.

In any case, that assumes that there is going to be a Conservative Party Leadership Election. In 2016, substantially the same body of people managed to come up with a shortlist of one, and it has now been told by whoever decides these things that even she is too extreme. It is no wonder that people like Nicky Morgan are not jumping ship. Anna Soubry may come to rue the day that she ever did.

Although Soubry could still make it into the Cabinet, perhaps even in this Parliament. The Conservative great and good are falling over themselves to insist that the recent departures could always come back. No one in the Labour Party is saying that, just as no one in the Conservative Party said it of Douglas Carswell or Mark Reckless, even though Reckless has since gone back.

There is no "Blukip" or "Purple Momentum". In fact, there are very few people in Momentum, but that is by the by. There were always very few people in UKIP, such that it was repeatedly possible to become its Leader with fewer votes than would have been needed to win many an inner city council seat. And even in that light, there has been no increase worth speaking of in the membership of the Conservative Party. The only suggestion of a deselection has been that of Nick Boles, and even that has not happened.

No, it is Theresa May who has been declared to be unconscionably and intolerably right-wing, just as Jeremy Corbyn has been declared to be unconscionably and intolerably left-wing. But whereas the Labour response is "and proud of it", the Conservative response is one of bewildered hurt and of hurt bewilderment.

That will translate into a new Leader in this Parliament who was capable of having the offers of the Ministerial positions of their choice accepted, not only by as many Conservative MPs as had joined the Independent Group, but also by as many Labour MPs as had done so.


  1. Labour is set to back a second referendum, John McDonnell has said today.

    Almost every Labour MP who hasn't already left, backs the Independent Group's views on reversing Brexit. Whereas the Tory MPs left behind by Ana Soubry, do not.

    A realignment producing a straightforwardly pro-Brexit and anti-Brexit party facing off.

    It was always going to happen.

    1. Drivel. The McDonnell referendum story has been doing the rounds for nearly three years. And no one votes in a General Election based on their view of Brexit. That was established as a fact in 2017.

      You have not addressed any point in this post, because you know that they are all correct.

  2. Michael Fabricant expresses the mainstream Tory mood of affronted indignation at the suggestion that they are right-wing. They'll have to be left of this to avoid proving the splitters right. This is starting to look like deliberate triangulation.