Tom Watson has urged voters to back their local Labour MP in order to avoid a “Margaret Thatcher-style” landslide that would make it difficult to hold the Conservatives to account.
Labour’s deputy leader said the party had a “mountain to climb” over the four weeks until the general election and was lagging behind in the polls with all income groups, including working-class voters.
The subtext is that Jeremy Corbyn is the reason for the ‘mountain to climb’… and that even if they are put off by Corbyn, voters can and should still vote for their Labour MP knowing that they are not Corbyn-supporters. The idea is also that because the Labour anti-Corbyn MPs have ‘sat on their hands’ and kept quiet, Corbyn will have to take responsibility for the catastrophic defeat. (However, I somehow doubt that it’ll work like that…)
To date, Tom Watson has been noticeably absent which is strange for the Deputy Leader of the LP in the middle of a General Election Campaign. However, a number of other stories have also emerged in the last week. The LP manifesto was leaked in its draft form, apparently maliciously. Ben Bradshaw and Frank Field seem to have already rejected it wholesale, and are writing their own.
Chuka Umunna and friends have issued a demand to stay in the single market. The new pamphlet, whose backers include former frontbenchers Stephen Timms, Stella Creasy, Rushanara Ali, Karen Buck, David Lammy, Seema Malhotra and Andy Slaughter, explicitly opposes leaving the single market because it would mean “lower growth and fewer jobs”
And who can forget John Woodcock’s bizarre video saying that he would not vote for Jeremy Corbyn to be Prime Minister.
All this is on top of a Telegraph article reporting that 100 Labour MPs will resign the Labour whip and set up as the official opposition, probably led to Yvette Cooper. There are quite a number of problems with this plan, not least that if that is their intention, they are currently standing under false pretences as Labour candidates.
The respected commentator Squidapedoyt responses to this suggestion are well worth considering in the light of the above:
‘One cannot help wondering just whose side these so-called “Labour” MPs are on. They waffle a lot about “effective opposition to the Tories” but when they are asked to get specific about exactly what that means, they go all vague. This is because it is very difficult to “oppose the Tories” by putting forward exactly the same policies. But hush, we had better be well-mannered and not talk about that.’
‘But hey, let’s take the silly and simplistic way out, blame [Jeremy Corbyn] for everything, and resign ourselves to life under the predators forever, ripped off for everything, with falling living standards and services everyone depends on being shredded, while the wealthy double their wealth at our expense every decade or so. That is what being “realistic” and “moderate” means.’
‘Poor old Corbyn. He has to campaign not only against the Tories but against 85% of the press and many of his own MPs too. This is his punishment for advancing sensible policies which many people long to see. Nobody could win in his place. The task is simply not possible.’
‘Good old PLP, loyal as ever. Can always be relied on for a destructive intervention at a key point. They have been effectively “sitting as independents” for months anyway. They refuse to acknowledge the leadership exists. If the Office of the Leader asks them to do something, they may do it, or they may do something else, or they may sit on their hands and do nothing.’
‘This story is just smoke and mirrors. it is a piece of propaganda worked up out of the usual unattributable sources just as Labour began to make serious inroads into the Tory poll lead.’
”On reflection, this story has to be a bit of malicious rumour-mongering and nothing else. Consider the position of a Labour MP who had resigned the whip and joined a new independent group. They would instantly be in serious strife with their local party branch. Many of them may feel confident they can carry the local party with them, but they will be in for a shock, especially with the recent changes in the composition of the membership. They would no longer have the help of the anti-Corbyn faction on the NEC and in the party’s apparat to log-roll for them and keep unruly branch memberships in order, because they would have cut themselves off from the party. They would lose access to funding and to research and administrative facilities. They might get expelled from their local branch offices and have to find new physical premises. If they sat as members of an independent group, they could even be expelled from the party for supporting a political organisation other than the Labour party, like those activists who recently got the push for trying to organise a progressive alliance with other parties. It’s too much for them to risk.’
‘Corbyn’s “crime” is he has put forward policies to try to change the direction of this country; “for the many, not the few”. He has been punished by having to fight not only the Tories but most of the media and many of his own MPs. Question is could anyone else have done any better? His policies are actually very popular, but “play the man, not the ball” is very effective, unfortunately.’
‘The other reason is more fundamental. Labour’s right wing (code-named “moderates”, but actually neither their policies nor their behaviour is really moderate at all) may waffle a lot about the need for effective opposition to the Tories. But when they are pressed for specifics about what exactly this means, they go all vague and start to talk in jargon and buzzwords. This is in order to hide the fact that it is very difficult to effectively oppose the Tories by putting forward basically identical policies.’
”There are two reasons why Labour has not been a more effective opposition. One is that the majority of MPs refuse to acknowledge the existence of the leadership. If the Office of the Leader asks them to do something, they may do it, or perhaps do something else, or perhaps even sit on their hands and do nothing. Then, having made effective opposition impossible, they blame Corbyn.’
The Corbyn-supporting membership are not sitting on their hands but are working extremely hard to help anti-Corbyn MPs be re-elected because for us, it is always better to have a Labour MP than a Tory. It is not asking a great deal to expect that our Labour PPCs should show loyalty (in public at least) to the democratically elected leader. Many of us had to keep our mouths shut during the New Labour years. Unfortunately, the impression left by some is that they would rather that the Conservatives are returned to government with all that that means for the NHS, Education, those with disability, social care, the environment, climate change, children growing up in poverty and more. They should think again about what they are doing.