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The Independent Group Grows

Written By: - Date published: 9:06 am, February 21st, 2019 - 25 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, Europe, International, uk politics - Tags: , , ,

Three Tory MP’s have joined the 8 Labour party rebels aligned in the so called ‘Independent Group’.

Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen have savaged Theresa May’s handling of the Brexit negotiations, claiming that the Tories had shifted further to the right, adopting Ukip policies and pushing a hard Brexit.

PM May’s Parliamentary majority is now just 8 votes, making her even more dependent on the hardline Northern Irish DUP for support.

The defecting MP’s say that the Conservative party has been effectively taken over by the ‘European Research Group’ of dry right MPs, who are pushing for a No Deal hard Brexit. The ERG’s most prominent member is unrepentant toff Jacob Rees Mogg.

The white anting of the Tories is matched in Labour, say the original members of the Independent Group. Their complaint is directed at Momentum, an internal organising and campaigning faction, who function in a similar way to the Trotskyist organisation Militant, who bedevilled the Labour Party in the 80’s and 90’s.

Ironically, the leader of Militant, Derek Hatton, has just been re-admitted to the Labour Party after a 34 year ban. He was then swiftly suspended after an old tweet referencing Israel came to light.

The Independent Group now has 11 members, with presumably more to come. If other Tory MP’s defect, then the odds of a snap election increase dramatically.

While Theresa May has said she will not contest the scheduled 2022 as leader, she did not rule out the option of going to the polls early.

If she does call a snap election, it will essentially be a second Brexit referendum. I would expect the Tories would win in a landslide, despite current polling having Labour closing the gap on the Conservatives.

This is because the UK still has an old fashioned first past the post electoral system. My feeling is that most British voters are heartily sick of Brexit and just want it over with. Given that Labour under leaver Jeremy Corbyn are not opposing Brexit, voters will be inclined to let the Tories finish the job they started.

In some ways, a thumping loss could be good for UK Labour. Corbyn could then resign and claim the martyr status he so desperately wants. A retirement of cheery shrugs about what might have been awaits him down the council allotment.

As for the Independent Group, they’ll briefly flourish, but the FPP system is brutal on third (or fourth) parties. They’ll end up being a footnote in the history of one of the ugliest periods in UK democracy.

Political history is littered with splitters. Most never amount to much, though one, of course, is currently Deputy PM of NZ.

The key thing in the UK situation is disillusionment. That’s been expressed by voters in many recent Western elections, resulting in some pretty awful outcomes.

In the UK situation, that lack of faith in the Parliamentary system has now spread to the floor of the House.

That’s the real significance of the Independent Group.

 

 

25 comments on “The Independent Group Grows”

  1. Gosman 1

    What will be interesting is if this new political group (Can’t call it a party just yet) gets more Tory and Labour MP’s so that it could offer Theresa May another coalition option other than the DUP. If so she could get them to support her Brexit plan in return for say a move towards a PR system. Stranger things have happened.

    • Adrian Thornton 1.1

      For once I agree with you, if a new party form here, it would of course lean toward the Tories, because as has been plainly obvious to anybody with even the the most rudimentary of critical thinking capacity all along, is that these so called’ centre’ lefties (New Labour) in Labour have an ideology far more closely aligned to the Right and the Tories than with a socialist traditional Left…so great news and good riddance, just too bad NZ Labour couldn’t have the same type of much needed realignment.

      Margret Thatcher didn’t say Blair and New labour were her greatest accomplishment for nothing…
      In 2002, twelve years after Margaret Thatcher left office, she was asked at a dinner what was her greatest achievement. Thatcher replied: “Tony Blair and New Labour. We forced our opponents to change their minds.”
      https://economicsociology.org/2018/03/19/thatcherisms-greatest-achievement/

      Tony Blair: “I always thought my job was to build on some of the things she had done rather than reverse them.”

      • DS 1.1.1

        They’re neoliberals, yes. They are also very anti-Hard Brexit. May’s Tories have positioned themselves as the Party of Leave. Ergo, they aren’t going to support the Tories.

    • Gabby 1.2

      She might get them to support a referendum on the negotiated terms of exit gozzer. They might go for that.

    • DS 1.3

      The Tories would rather lose power than adopt PR.

      Meanwhile, the Labour defectors do not want to be seen as propping up May. Not least because they hate May as much as they hate Corbyn.

  2. Anne 2

    Given the total shambles that is Brexit and the fact the UK has become a political laughing stock elsewhere, is there a chance they might look at an alternative system to FPP such as our own system MMP?

    The Lab/Tory divide is increasingly out of sync with public expectations.

    Edit… looks like Gosman is thinking along the same lines. That’s one from the left and one from the right. Must be a goer. 🙂

    • Adrian Thornton 2.1

      “The Lab/Tory divide is increasingly out of sync with public expectations.”

      Maybe we should wait and see what labour can do now that the negative and destructive New labour Tories have mercifully finally purged themselves…

      And the truth of the matter is that they are now like zombies in the political wilderness, and we all know what happens to zombies don’t we…

    • Editractor 2.2

      The UK had a referendum in 2011 about changing the electoral system but the alternative was rejected – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_United_Kingdom_Alternative_Vote_referendum#Proposed_AV_system

      The Wiki article says “The campaign was described in retrospect by political scientist Iain McLean as a “bad-tempered and ill-informed public debate”.” Sound familiar?

      They could try again, but if the author is right and the Tories win any election convincingly, then don’t expect it.

  3. lprent 3

    Snap! Well it is the most interesting news today.

  4. Siobhan 4

    In these situations I always find the Daily Mail very enlightening.

    Today they are presenting this story as the formation of a TORY DOMINATED party and all about a clear vote against May. Headlines all in Blue, pictures of smiling women in blue scarfs galore..

    Top scoring DM comments so far…

    “Good riddance to them. Any politician who is trying to stop BREXIT is ignoring the will of the BREXIT referendum and should not be allowed to continue in politics.”

    “Anna Soubry…. your constituents voted LEAVE… why are you not respecting the wishes of those who voted you into office!”

    “The three traitors to this country who would sell us all out to the EU for their thirty pieces of silver. Good luck getting re-elected, or ever being trusted in a public position again”

    Its really only our ‘voices of the Left’ who like to think this is all about anti Corbyn sentiment…primarily the ‘fact’ that Corbyn is the greatest threat to the Jewish people and all workers and families of the Nation since Hitler.

    • greywarshark 4.1

      Was that last para a quote or you Siobhan?
      I thought that Corbyn’s anti-S was more about wanting Palestinians treated fairly and decrying Israeli’s dominance and oppression?

    • Morrissey 4.2

      The estimable Jonathan Cook effectively demolishes the lies of Berger and her hapless followers.

      ….The timing of the defections was strange, occurring shortly after the Labour leadership revealed the findings of an investigation into complaints of anti-semitism in the party. These were the very complaints that MPs such as Berger have been citing as proof of the party’s “institutional racism”.

      And yet, the report decisively undercut their claims – not only of endemic anti-semitism in Labour, but of any significant problem at all.

      That echoed an earlier report by the Commons home affairs committee, which found there was “no reliable, empirical evidence” that Labour had more of an anti-semitism problem than any other British political party.

      Nonetheless, the facts seem to be playing little or no part in influencing the anti-semitism narrative. This latest report was thus almost entirely ignored by Corbyn’s opponents and by the mainstream media. It is, therefore, worth briefly examining what the Labour Party’s investigation discovered.

      Over the previous 10 months, 673 complaints had been filed against Labour members over alleged anti-semitic behaviour, many based on online comments. In a third of those cases, insufficient evidence had been produced.

      The 453 other allegations represented 0.08 percent of the 540,000-strong Labour membership. Hardly “endemic” or “institutional”, it seems. ….

      https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/anti-semitism-cover-much-deeper-divide-britains-labour-party

      • Adrian Thornton 4.2.1

        Thanks, guess we won’t be hearing those figures on morning report tomorrow.
        Good link too.

  5. One Two 5

    Actions of each individual involved, are contrived…

    Planned
    Managed
    Arranged
    Staged

    Who’s pulling the strings…

  6. Stuart Munro 6

    One of the problems with treating Brexit as a purely internal problem is the degree to with it was influenced by migration patterns, which in some cases seem to have been encouraged as a destabilizing influence on the EU and UK.

    People like Sean McFate interpret this kind of destabilization as contemporary warfare in the Clausewitzian sense, of pursuing diplomatic objectives by other means. The extent that this destabilization is a foreign construct limits the effectiveness of realignments like the Independent Group. Have they a rational and practical position on Brexit, or the pressures that allowed UKIP to float it successfully? If not, I’m not sure what success they might be able to come up with, other than nobbling Corbyn.

  7. Macro 7

    Breaking Fake News!
    Theresa May sees writing on wall, quits Conservatives to join Independent Group

    Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that she is ‘disgusted’ with the direction in which the Conservative Party is being taken, and has joined the brave group of ragtag MPs in the ‘Independent Group’.

    In a strongly-worded letter to herself, May spoke movingly of the disastrous handling of the Brexit negotiations and the Tory party’s lurch to the right, adopting Ukip policies and pursuing a hard Brexit. “Dear me,” she wrote. “I no longer feel I can remain in the party of a government whose policies and priorities are so firmly in the grip of the ERG and DUP. “Brexit has re-defined the Conservative party – undoing all the efforts to modernise it. There has been a dismal failure to stand up to the hardline ERG, which operates openly as a party within a party, with its own leader, whip and policy.”

    “What a heap of shit, quite frankly. Whoever got us into this mess has a lot to answer for!”

  8. rata 8

    The Uk is like a soggy cold bowl of porridge.
    And that’s at the height of summer.
    Millions live in horrible, small, dark, damp hovels they call houses.
    Conditions have not improved much since the 1940’s.
    Colour TV and mobile phones are about all that’s changed in 75 years.
    Life in the UK is bleak except for the 20% elite class.
    Every one else just shuffles around going nowhere slowly.
    A few elite politicians mumbling about forming a new party
    is like changing the chairs on the titanic.
    The games the rich play among themselves.

  9. John Irving 9

    NZ Gnats should take a look at this breakaway group as a means for giving their own diverse right wing entities (ie farmers, business and religious psychos) a means to attracting more sympathetic voters. The MMP would really be a way of forming a representative Govt.

  10. SPC 10

    Their only hope of victory next election is to stand in their seats for the LD.

    A few might, the rest will retire – they are just a vehicle for continuing dissent at what the two parties are doing.

    The Remain/single market/customs union voices in the Tories will go quiet after the no deal Brexit. And the anti-Corbyn faction in Labour will go silent so they survive re-selection.

  11. greywarshark 11

    I n case the audio of the defectors and a comment on it hasn’t gone up elsewhere i think this is a good piece on it.
    https://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/2018683444/three-uk-conservative-mps-defect-for-new-independent-party

  12. Morrissey 12

    Rob Watson of the BBC, laughing, smears Jeremy Corbyn as “hard left”.
    Guyon Espiner snickers supportively, fails to ask him to explain his allegation.

    Morning Report, RNZ National, Thursday 21 Feb. 2019

    Shortly before the 8 a.m. news, it’s time for the once-over-lightly on British politics. The correspondent is, as usual, “Rob Watson from the BBC” who, after laughingly noting that British politics is “anything BUT boring now”, gravely informs Guyon Espiner that since 2015 British politics has been hit with two bombs: the first was the election of Jeremy Corbyn “who took the Labour Party to the hard left”, and Brexit.

    Espiner is so busy chuckling that he actually forgets to do his job, which is (presumably) to ask intelligent questions and demand some clarification or substantiation if a correspondent makes a contentious and incendiary statement. And having someone like Watson, with his clubby, plummy Oxbridge accent sneeringly dismiss Corbyn as “hard left” is extremely contentious and incendiary. All of Corbyn’s positions on all sorts of things from taxation to investment in infrastructure and industry to rational, fair, and sane foreign policy, are pretty much the same as the vast majority of British people.

    One encouraging feature of an otherwise forgettable and wasted couple of minutes was the fact that all of the discussion concerned Corbyn’s attitudes and actions toward the Brexit catastrophe. Watson, who is quite happy to smear Corbyn as “hard left”, is nevertheless enough of a professional journalist not to indulge imbecilic fantasies. He never once mentioned the ridiculous “anti-Semitism” canard bruited so unconvincingly by Luciana Berger and her hapless, soon to be forgotten followers.

  13. DS 13

    What an utterly clueless post.

    1. Momentum is nothing like Militant. Momentum’s purpose is to support Jeremy Corbyn as leader. Militant were Trotskyite entryists who were running a party within a party

    2. The Tory defectors have said they won’t vote to bring down the Government. In terms of whether May survives, these events have not changed things.

    3. A snap election requires Labour signing off on it, due to the Fixed Term Parliament Act. No-one wants a snap-election right now – neither May, nor (despite his bluster, Corbyn), nor the Independent Group.

    4. It is impossible to have a snap election before Article 50 takes effect, and Brexit is official – there isn’t time. Nor is there any parliamentary will to delay Article 50.

    5. A thumping loss would not be good for UK Labour. Or the UK. Two decades of Tory rule?

    6. The dispute isn’t about Brexit vs Remain – it’s about the type of Brexit (Hard/Soft, and what sort of deal can be negotiated).

  14. Peter Bradley 14

    I’ve followed and mulled over Brexit for many months. My theory is that the UK needs proportional representation. I believe the lead up to Brexit and the subsequent unravelling of effective government could all have been avoided if the UK didn’t have a first past post electoral system.
    Think about what lead up to the referendum and why. Over several elections prior to Brexit the anti-European Union party UKIP garnered millions of votes but no seats in parliament – due to FFP. This lack of political expression for the UKIP vote put enormous pressure on the Conservative government to call the referendum in the first place.
    But even after a clear refereundum outcome the UK parliament has proven itself incapable of operating effectively and ultimately begun to disintegrate.
    Again – if the UK had used proportional representation to select it’s parliament it would have included UKIP, the Conservatives, a left wing Labour Party and a number of centrist parties who would all (Brexiteers included) have to graple with each other and the nitty gritty details of the Uk’s relationship with Europe.
    As it is both the UK government and it’s opposition have expended enormous energy keeping their own parties in line rather than governing for their people. All the while the UKIP politicians (who never gained seats in parliament) are absent from any political responsibility at all and are free to say whatever they want.
    Strangely – proportional representation does not register in the UK – they just don’t seem to get how un-representative FFP is even as they are suffereing the consequences of this directly.

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    6 days ago
  • Digital connectivity boost for urban marae
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  • Govt increases assistance to drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers
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