A group of seven MPs has split off from the Labour Party – to gasps of relief across the United Kingdom.
The reaction is probably not what they wanted.
The group includes Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker and Angela Smith as expected.
Joining them are Luciana Berger – quitting before her Liverpool Wavertree CLP pushes through the “no confidence” vote that members have been readying? – along with Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey.
The group has released a statement but it seems its website is having teething problems – odd since it has been registered since 2015 – and I can’t really be bothered unless Vox Political readers are genuinely interested. Are you?
It’s much more fun to highlight the public response, which is primarily relief. The flood of comments yesterday (Sunday, February 18) when rumours spread that the split would happen today, speaks for itself. Some thought this was another publicity stunt and they would not go through with it:
— The Agitator (@UKDemockery) February 17, 2019
Others pointed out the qualities of the expected splitters and the likely tensions between them:
Can't see it lasting long, think about the problem they all have: Not one potential member will be able to trust any of the other potential members because they already know how each one of them won't think twice about stepping on them in favour of their own egos/careers.😉
— TracieWaylingArtASMR (@traciewayling) February 17, 2019
The prevailing mood – especially in the case of Mr Umunna, was clear:
Everyone on the left waiting for Umunna to finally leave pic.twitter.com/Es4KG0dUnj
— Stats for Lefties (@LeftieStats) February 17, 2019
Hey @ChukaUmunna ….you better leave tomorrow…. because you can’t just keep teasing people about LEAVING & …then not 😔… you know…..
Because…. now I’m like👇🏽….. pic.twitter.com/E0JGHDzH6v
— Cathy Higgins #GeneralStrike #ToriesOut🇸🇱🇬🇧🌍 (@JustMeBeingMe4) February 17, 2019
And some posted wish lists of other Labour members they would like to see split off – for a very obvious reason:
Please let Mike Gapes,Chris Leslie,Angela Smith,Margaret Hodge,Ian Austin,John Mann,Graham Stringer,Luciana Berger,Kate Hoey,Owen Smith,Rachel Reeves,Jess Phillips and Neil Coyle go2.
Then we can get candidates against them in the mould of Faiza Shaheen/Laura Pidcock+Dan Carden.
— robert jeffery (@robjeffecology) February 17, 2019
Mr Jeffery will be pleased to see Ms Berger and Mr Gapes among the splitters. Mr Gapes is also on Matt Zarb-Cousins’s list:
I’m not the only one totally fed up with these Labour MPs grandstanding for years about leaving, while members put in the hours campaigning to get them elected. If you’re a Labour MP but you don’t want a Labour government or to enact our agenda, leave & do so quickly ffs. Thanks
— Matt Zarb-Cousin (@mattzarb) February 17, 2019
Speculation on what the “Independent Group” would represent has been overwhelmingly negative towards them:
What will this new "Centrist" party stand for?
Rampant marketisation & uncontrolled capitalism?
I suspect all of the above under a pro EU banner. The policies are being rejected & thank Christ they are.
We need a socialist LAB govt!
— Bevan Boy (@mac123_m) February 17, 2019
A new centrist party wouldn't spell the emergence of a new politics, it's the old one sailing off in a lifeboat.
It would gently amble towards an empty horizon with no idea where it is going or what forces are pushing it.
— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) February 17, 2019
And the departure will provoke comparisons with the “Gang of Four” who formed the SDP in 1981. That decision led to the formation of the Liberal Democrats, a party that apparently killed itself off as a national political organisation by forming a coalition with the Conservatives between 2010 and 2015. Here’s Martin O’Neill:
But for both groups, it is hard to disagree with Tony Benn’s withering critique of Roy Jenkins here. They owe a huge amount to the Labour Party, without which they’d have no prominence or public standing at all. And Labour will be better off without them.https://t.co/rBlwvol5wC
— Martin O'Neill (@martin_oneill) February 17, 2019
As ever, Tony Benn called it correctly – 38 years ago.
Last word goes to Liam Young:
Since the day Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader they have been planning this split. They launched a failed coup in 2016 which they arrogantly believed they had sewn up. They’ve bungled the split numerous times since. They are incompetent and delusional. Good riddance.
— Liam Young (@liamyoung) February 17, 2019
Damn straight – good riddance.