To understand what is going to happen we first need to look at a bit of history.
The lefty Wilson and Callaghan governments of the 1970s trashed both British society and the British economy, leading ultimately to the Winter of Discontent. In 1978/9 an incredible 29,474,000 working days were lost to industrial action. Hospitals were picketed to prevent patients getting in, dead bodies were unburied and were stored in shipping containers. Britain was in a downwards spiral to oblivion. British voters reacted by rejecting socialism and embracing Thatcherism at the 1979 General Election.
Margaret Thatcher was so popular and socialism was so unpopular that she won two more General Elections with huge majorities. Labour were in the wilderness. In 1979 Callaghan lost, in 1983 Foot lost and in 1987 and 1992 Kinnoch lost. Then along came the charismatic Tony Blair who made Labour electable again by rejecting the leftism of the Winter of Discontent and with him came Gordon Brown who promised to continue the economic policies of the Conservatives with no tax rises. This was a winning formula, in 1997, 2001 and 2005. Then Gordon Brown became PM and lost control of the economy with his fiscal incontinence. So once more Labour became unelectable, losing in 2010 and 2015.
Tony Blair was leader of the Labour party from 21 July 1994 till 24 June 2007. For 13 years he remodeled it as a modern Social Democratic party. Virtually all the MPs, officials, activists and supporters were Blairites, only a small cadre of lefties remained. This cadre was so small that Jeremy Corbyn couldn’t get even 35 MPs to support him as a candidate in the recent leadership election until some Blairites nominated him so as to make the debate interesting. How they must be kicking themselves now.
Corbyn has been swept to power because of the votes of three kinds of people. Firstly the unreconstructed lefties from the 1970s who have not learned the lessons of history and who want to return us to those terrible times. They are driven by class warfare and envy, both of which are irrelevant in modern society. Secondly large numbers of young people who don’t remember the Winter of Discontent and who don’t understand simple economics. They are attracted to Corbyn’s idealistic spend, spend, spend policies, not realising that they are utterly impossible to implement and would cause real damage to Great Britain. Thirdly there are tens of thousands of mischievous Conservative voters who paid £3 each to help to destroy the Labour party and who look like succeeding in doing so.
So now we have an interesting situation. The Labour party is split into three separate tribes who have utterly different beliefs. The vast majority of Labour’s 232 MPs are Blairite as are most Councillors in local government, most MSPs and most MEPs. Also most officials and most experienced activists are too. The second tribe is the membership who voted Corbyn in. Many of these think that Corbyn is not left wing enough, they want to re-nationalise everything without compensation (theft) and to punish the successful rich people (more theft). The third tribe is the trade unions, they own the party financially and they own Tom Watson, the Labour deputy leader. They do not want a single one of their members to lose a job, no matter how unnecessary that job is and they want all their members to be paid far more than they are worth. They will force through policies that ensure this regardless of whether these policies are Blairite or lefty.
At Westminster the Labour lefty MPs are such a minority that Corbyn had difficulty putting a shadow cabinet together and ended up with some very dodgy people in it. But the majority of Blairite Labour MPs are in very big trouble indeed. Firstly in the opinion polls Corbyn is the most unpopular new party leader in history and voting intentions will see Labour obliterated in 2020. Secondly moves are afoot to deselect all the Blairite MPs and to replace them with lefty candidates at the next election. So either way most Labour MPs are looking at the probability of being unemployed in four and a half years time. This is focussing their attention.
There is much talk of a coup to unseat Corbyn and replace him with someone with leadership qualities who is electable. Alan Johnson, for instance. No Labour MPs have jumped ship yet because they are plotting for this. Some are hoping for the return of David Miliband, the sensible and less incompetent brother. But these options just are not going to happen unless Corbyn utterly destroys his own position. The membership and the unions are completely behind him.
So the only option available to these MPs is to desert their party. They could do this one at a time, in dribs and drabs as they each raised enough courage. Or they could all bail out together in one block. But where would they go?
- They could form a new Social Democratic party which would have most existing Labour MPs, Councillors, MSPs and MEPs. But they would have the minority of supporters and no trade unions, so no money. This would take real leadership to pull off and would involve lots of plotting. Such a mass exodus would leave Corbyn with a small rump of MPs. But last time a similar feat was tried, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1981, it ultimately failed.
- They could join the Conservatives, which is already the best party for the working man and which is what most voters prefer. Although the ideological leap would in reality be very small for most Labour MPs the tribal warfare of British politics makes it look bigger than it really is.
- They could join the Liberal Democrats, which have just lurched leftwards with their new leader, Tim Farron. This has the advantage of an existing party machine. But the Labour deserters would vastly outnumber the existing LibDem politicians, so it would end up being a takeover, which might not go down well.
- They could join UKIP, a populist party which targets the less well educated working man, Labour’s traditional voters. This actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it and take a look at the psephology. UKIP came second in a lot of seats in the recent General Election.
- The one Scottish MP could join the Scottish National Party. The SNP stands for sleaze, lies, thuggery and incompetent governance, so a Labour MP would feel right at home with them.
- The Green party is a joke, even nuttier and more disconnected from reality than Corbyn. This could appeal to some Labour MPs.
- Welsh Labour MPs could join Plaid Cymru, but it is an unpopular party so they would still probably lose their seats at the next election.
So the Labour party is dead man walking. It is a matter of when, not if and it is a matter of how. It can be destroyed by the voters in 2020. Or it can be destroyed by most of its politicians leaving it. Or maybe by a combination of these. Either way Corbyn’s election as leader will surely result in destroying it.
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