What next for moderate Labour?

Corbyn has won. It’s clear that he will come out victorious in any leadership contest and the Chilcot report has put the final nail in the coffin of a serious challenge.

And more importantly the left of the Labour Party has won. Their project – to seize control of the levers of power within Labour and change the rules to turn it into a true hard-left socialist party – will take another couple of years, but it will almost certainly happen.

So Labour as a party of government is gone and Labour as a party of protest is here to stay. Despite my many and frequent disagreements with my political opponents in the red corner, I have to say that is a tragedy for our country.

The question moderate Labour members – including the vast majority of their MPs, all their MEPs and a large proportion of their councillors – are asking is, of course, “what next?”

We can’t under-estimate how tough a question that is. Most will feel a strong emotional attachment to the Labour movement, and all will look back to the SDP and recall how cruel a mistress the First Past the Post system can be to breakaway parties.

The initial impulse will of course be to hang on. Stay in Labour. Hope that somehow the mess can be sorted out. Perhaps it will take five years, perhaps ten, but surely at some point enough people will realise that a party of protest is of little use to the millions of people suffering under Tory rule. To help them, it must have the desire and ability to take power. And maybe that will work. Politics is nothing if not unpredictable – maybe the impossible will happen.

There could be a splinter-party – an SDP Mark II. Risky – the Mark I model didn’t do quite as well as hoped. But lessons can be learnt, a Gang of 180 is a different proposition to a Gang of Four and a new party – Democratic Labour, say – would have the potential to mould itself into a modern, forward-looking social democratic party able to win a general election and beat the Tories. Much-loved as it understandably is by the Labour faithful, there would also be the opportunity to throw off some baggage which has perhaps been holding the party back.

Another option is some form of cross-party progressive platform of the sort Paddy has been promoting on and off for the last two decades.

And no doubt some – perhaps many – will choose to cross to the Liberal Democrats and be welcomed: there are many on the moderate wing of the Labour Party who share our values and beliefs and could find a home in the Lib Dem family.

I don’t envy anyone that decision, nor would I criticise Labour members for coming to one view over another. But a decision there must be. To do nothing is to accept the reality of perpetual Tory rule in our country and I don’t believe they want that any more than I do.

* Iain Roberts is the former leader of Stockport Liberal Democrats and Lib Dem Campaign Manager in Greater Manchester Mayoral election and for Cheadle constituency in the General Election

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41 Comments

  • It’s far too early to jump to conclusions about the future of the Labour Party. Corbyn hasn’t won – he has a temporary stay of execution. He is also 67. Time is not on his side.

  • We have to be speaking with moderate labour politicians and bringing them on board with the Lib Dems; it’s a winner from every angle. Their core values remain, but they join a united party which has a clear view of their own and the country’s future. It also puts us back on the political map in one fell swoop, and may even encourage centreline Tories to follow suit.

  • Are we or are we not a radical party? We have made this choice too many times that we should ally with the more conservative wing of Labour. The hope that Corbynism (whether or not you believe in the man himself) brings, is that a new paradigm of politics, and possibly more importantly, economics, is under serious consideration by a main party for the first time for over 20 years. Surely we should be delighted that the sub-Thatcherism, the inequality, the timidity, the “There is No Alternative” narrative is under challenge. I hope that wise party members will respond to such initiatives as that from the Green Party to work together to make a fresh start, abandoning those aspects of Tory policy for the last 40 years that many of us detest.

  • Roger Heape 8th Jul '16 - 9:25am

    We have eight MP’s Lets say 20 Labour MP’s defect to the Lib Dems? Who runs the parliamentary party?

  • John Shoesmith 8th Jul '16 - 9:36am

    This is an opportunity for Alliance. I know – it has been done before, but these times are different. I have never been so angry in my life, and there are many more that think the same way. Many of those people have joined Labour. Others joined the LibDems. The motivations were similar.
    The coalition showed the folly of trying to operate separate moderate parties. The LibDems had a huge triumph (by their standards) and made it as a minor coalition member, but were later trounced in the polls because they could not deliver all they promised. The private negotiations that preceded the coalition involved horse trading that was invisible to the electorate and disappointed many.
    An Alliance would have to horse trade before the election, but after that would have a real chance of total victory. The road would then be clear to deliver all of its manifesto promises. That is much better for democracy.

  • Alex Macfie 8th Jul '16 - 9:47am

    I would be happy for “sub-Thatcherism” to be challenged, but not when it’s by a terrorist-honouring crypto-Marxist.

  • ……………And more importantly the left of the Labour Party has won. Their project – to seize control of the levers of power within Labour and change the rules to turn it into a true hard-left socialist party – will take another couple of years, but it will almost certainly happen…….

    The idea that Corbyn’s policies are ‘Hard-Left Socialist’ is nonsense…I am old enough to remember when most of such policies were mainstream Lib(Dem) policies….

    As for Labour ‘turning into a protest party’; what does that make us?

    What if 20-30-40 Labour MPs defect to us…What happens at the next GE; will they be elected as LibDems? I doubt it…

    My belief/nightmare is that there will be a rise in UKIP when the ‘promised land’ of ‘Brexit’ doesn’t happen…The problems will be blamed, not on Farage/UKIP but on a ‘weak’ government that fails to deliver the impossible…

    We don’t need ‘joining’; we need an ‘ad hoc’ unofficial alliance with like minded MPs from any party…The threat to the UK is not from the ‘left’ but from the ‘right’….
    We are becoming a less and less tolerant society and ‘Brexit’ has opened the door to a UK that I dread….

  • No: we will disappear. Better a working arrangement only on ceratin issues, one being Europe. Nothing more. Labour loyalties are deeply entrenched. After 1983 I doubt that they will repeat splitting.

  • David Warren 8th Jul '16 - 10:26am

    I think a lot depends on what happens over the next year or two.

    If Corbyn survives, his supporters in Momentum will likely start trying to deselect those MPs who oppose him.

    How successful that is will focus the minds of Labour moderates.

    Deselected MPs will either defect, form a new party or stand as independents.

    Don’t rule out some joining the Conservative party particularly if it keeps them in parliament.

    In the meantime the left will work on changing rule party rules, policies and groom a successor to Corbyn.

  • Roger Billins 8th Jul '16 - 10:31am

    There are some deeply unpleasant and intolerant people on the right and left of the Labour Party but people have been right to point out that we have to work with all left of centre politicians and civic groups to get the possible outcome from the present post Brexit vote chaos. If people like Dan Jarvis, Tristram Hunt and Harriet Harman want to join us, then that’s fine by me ! One thing is for sure, the tribalist, siege mentality socialists of Momentum wont be interested in working with us !!

  • nigel hunter 8th Jul '16 - 10:34am

    To me the 1980 rise of the SDP Libs was stopped by the Falklands war that gave Thatcher a strong position. Any Alliance that my arise in the future will have to keep an eye on World events. To build up this Alliance the first step could be for parties to agree to one sort of PR. whilst remaining individual parties. Yes, the threat is from the right and maybe we should, starting now, point out the UKIP threat of Brexit not happening blaming Govnt. failure We do need a united opposition of all parties working loosely together. Today I hear of a hate crime on a Polish family. Brexit has made us a less tolerant society and has boosted the National Front style thinkers to spread fear amongst us It must be stamped out.

  • paul barker 8th Jul '16 - 11:11am

    Can I just point out that the common story of The SDP : split/fail/merge leaves out a lot of succsess. At their high point The Alliance reached 50% in the polls. Then came The Falklands Invasion & the British media returned to their factory setting – 2 Parties only.

    The simplest option is for Centrist Labour MPs to join us but if that happens its likely to be individual MPs in dribs & drabs.
    The PLP majority could break off & claim The Labour name but that would end in The Courts & could drag on for years.
    A new SDP would begin with no members & no organisation, with the possible prospect of an Election in October. It looks tough whichever way they go, they left it way too late to start their Coup.
    I cant make out what The PLP majority are up to now, they seem to be bereft of Ideas & Leaders.

  • Neil Sandison 8th Jul '16 - 11:30am

    I think plans are in motion .The moderates accepted this too meekly and perhaps they do indeed plan to break away .Where they will go and with whom they co-operate only time will tell but I hope we are prepared to welcome not fear any break away group as potential allies and not competitors for the centre left ground in British politics.

  • Can I just point out that Corbyn’s supporters aren’t all rabid tribalist socialists?

    As a Cobyn supporter, I feel I should point out I supported the Liberal Democrats until a year or so after 2010, and have supported a mix of Labour and tge Greens since. I’d describe myself as a Liberal Socialist, personal-freedom and mixed economy supporter.

    We aren’t some unified monolithic blob of trotskys or SWP entrists resistant to rhyme or reason.

    Of course we’re going to be a bit miffed the PLP is trying to avoid letting us vote. A transparent demonstation of distrust.

    If what is said about the new members is true, that they are overwhelmingly young; then I would not be surprised if there is notable crossover with 2010 LibDem voters and Corbyn supporters. Youth who feel politically disenfranchised(as low turnout levels also suggest)

    We aren’t tribal, we shouldn’t be dismissed as a lost cause in any alliance talks.

    I feel like young people have tried to make their voice heard, and have been almost universally dismissed as loony left boogeymen, so politically ignorant as to destroy the Labour party.

    After the growing calls of sympathy for Leave voters, I kind of wonder why Corbyn supporters weren’t granted a similar courtesy.

  • Shaun Young 8th Jul '16 - 12:11pm

    With the possibility of Andrea Leadsom being the next PM and leader of the Conservative party, who has made it clear and has the support of some ‘Old Guard’ Torys that she is taking on the mantle of Margaret Thatcher: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/02/andrea-leadsom-i-can-be-the-new-margaret-thatcher/ we should also consider the question what of ‘Moderates’ within the Tory party as well?

    Could we / Are we, being taken back to the polarised days of ‘Hard Left’ vs ‘Hard Right’ and the damage wrought where the politics of ‘Envy’ and ‘Greed’ were fought out across the country, with some shut out while others reaped the benefits?

    Could there be the possibility of ‘Loose’ alliances being formed from all sides of the political spectrum, to prevent such polar and dogmatic Government formation. This may be a necessity rather than a desire.

  • @ Janice Gale

    Well said, Janice. We ought to be looking at the needs of the people, producing radical policies responsive to those needs and campaigning positively for those policies.

    It’s not enough to focus on the inadequacies of other parties. We need to produce a positive vision of our own.

  • Ed Shepherd 8th Jul '16 - 1:24pm

    Jeremy Corbyn might be considered the most successful Labour leader for twenty years; possibly forty years if Blair’s pariah status is taken into account. Consider:
    Jeremy Corbyn: Has not lost a general election, yet.
    Ed Milliband: Never won a general election. Lost a general election.
    Gordon Brown: Never won a general election. Lost a general election.
    Tony Blair: Won all three general elections in which he was Labour leader.
    John Smith: Sadly passed away before he was able to lead in a general election.
    Neil Kinnock: Never won a general election. Lost two general elections.
    Michael Foot: Never won a general election. Lost a general election.
    Jim Callaghan: Never won a general election. Lost a general election.
    Harold Wilson: Won four general elections. Lost one general election.
    On Corbyn’s “socialism”, if it is similar to the “socialism” that led to unprecedented advances in education, health and culture in the UK between 1945 and 1979 (the basic features of which were supported by the Liberal Party and even the Tory Party of that time), then it might prove to be surprisingly popular at the ballot box…

  • Sue Sutherland 8th Jul '16 - 3:48pm

    I think that what’s happening in the Labour Party may well be a fight between hard left and moderates but I think new hard left members may be planning to deselect moderate MPs. Angela Eagles’s local party seems to be divided with allegations and counter allegations being made on local TV. I’m sure many of the new members want a fairer society with help given to the weakest and don’t realise the more sinister intentions of those who are seeking to bring about a revolution by manipulating them. These people will have caught the scent of revolution by democratic means demonstrated by the referendum result and will stir up hatred within the party.
    Meanwhile, over on the right both May and Gove were talking about helping the poorest yesterday, just before figures were released showing an increase in child poverty. I don’t want them to get away with it. The unholy alliance between the Tory right, grumpy members in the shires, right wing papers and people who have felt overlooked and disenfranchised must be stopped.
    I truly believe that our party is desperately needed now, more than ever before, to avert extremism taking over our country, but we can only do this if we can help those who have been left behind in the prosperity stakes as our preamble makes clear we will do.

  • David Allen 8th Jul '16 - 3:52pm

    As this thread makes clear, some Lib Dems prefer the Labour “moderates”, others prefer Corbyn. This should give us pause. Do we really want to take on a brand new split, and one that is not of our own making?

    Labour are rudderless. They look like a three-legged race team up against Usain Bolt. They don’t look likely to untie the bands and declare SDP Mark 2 any time soon.

    What we should offer to provide Labour with, I suggest, is leadership. Despite the fluid situation, we are capable of coming up with a clear strategy for the Brexit negotiations, which must include a new democratic decision (whether by referendum or GE) once we know what terms are available. Can Labour produce a clear strategy?

    Here is Corbyn’s:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/08/jeremy-corbyn-labour-negotiations-europe-tories-exploit-cheap-labour

    and it espouses Boris’s cake policy (have it and eat it too). Jeremy is going to stay inside the single market, and he is also going to reform freedom of movement. Sadly, there is not the slightest chance that the EU will let him. As they repeatedly point out, if they aren’t giving such concessions to their nice friends in Norway, why on earth should they be expected to give them to a bunch of horrible Brits who have just kicked them in the teeth?

    Britain has made a dreadful choice on the basis of wishful thinking. As the Tories and Labour slowly come to realise this, we can seek to lead them out of the mire.

  • Conor McGovern 8th Jul '16 - 4:01pm

    It’s not a tragedy that Labour’s found their roots again. What’s a tragedy is that they need to be little more than Tories with a human face in order to win under FPTP. Corbyn and McDonnell have actually mulled electoral reform: let’s get on and join up our allies to make it happen.

  • Conor McGovern 8th Jul '16 - 4:03pm

    From Labour’s point of view though, John McDonnell would make a more effective leader out of the socialist candidates. Corbyn might not look too bad in a few years faced with Leadsom at the helm, however!

  • Of course another alternative is to move to the right rather than the left and attempt to attract Tory voters. Labour unfairly ripped into Liberals during the coalition years so I don’t see any future in cozying up to them just to be stabbed in the back again. It was particularly galling to be falsely accused of lying about tuition fees from the party that unwisely introduced them in the first place: Something the Tories had been unwilling to do. The sheer cheek of it!

    All I wish for now from the Liberals is that they stop pretending to be the green party and start preparing a proper energy policy that deals with the trilemma in a serious way.

  • Tim13 (3rd comment) asks if we are or are not a radical party. What a tragedy that he has to ask but he is right to do so.

    I used to take it for granted that we were radical while being dismayed that the party was still struggling to find its philosophical feet after too long in the wilderness. But now? Many seem to have little or no idea about how to progress other than by “going on manoeuvres” – striking alliances with this or that group that might or might not split from some other party.

    One key to getting this right is to understand that most of what passes for economics is merely a thinly veiled justification for what the Tories want to do – in simple terms to acquire as much wealth and power for themselves and their friends as possible. Examine it closely and consider actual *ahem* evidence and what seems like an impregnable wall of economic fact and logic falls apart. Once upon a time distorted versions of religion were used to keep the populace in line – e.g. the “divine right of kings” for which there is no biblical support whatsoever but jolly useful for Charles I and others. Now, in a secular age, distorted versions of economics play the same role.

    So the so-called “economic liberals” among us were right to perceive the party needed a core of economic thinking but catastrophically wrong to uncritically adopt the Tory version. It’s no accident that having down so they found themselves behaving in Tory-ish ways.

  • Tony Dawson 8th Jul '16 - 5:13pm

    I would like to point out that some right wing Labour is ‘moderate’ and some is anything but. I listened to an interview with Ben Bradshaw MP the other day and found it nauseating. There are many Conservatives I would rather work with than with him.

  • It’s very misleading to describe Corbyn and his supporters as “hard-left socialists” since it all depends on your frame of reference – a.k.a. the “Overton Window”, the span of opinions it’s deemed respectable to have and to express. To his immense credit Corbyn has stuck to his guns over the years (although that does not unfortunately make him a good leader).

    As far as I can tell Corbyn is more or less a social democrat as it would once have been understood. If that puts him well outside the Overton Window that’s because since Thatcher the Tories have dragged it further and further to the right. But, because it’s been done slowly over several decades and because the combined opposition has folded intellectually allowing them free rein, we like the proverbial frogs being slowly boiled, don’t realise what’s happening or the danger. The next stage is crony capitalism on steroids, a de facto merger of state and corporate interests which is an operational definition of fascism.

    So what we should worry about is not the “hard left” but the “hard right”. In the US in particular we are seeing seething rage at the gross injustice meted out to black people and, just a little further under the surface, the way some of the elite are effectively above the law which is now only for little people for some of the administration.

    https://judiciary.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/070516_Letter-to-Director-Comey.pdf

    The challenge – and opportunity – for Tim Farron is not to worry about other parties but only the one he leads, to revitalise it intellectually, to make it fit for purpose and offer people new hope. And that’s all perfectly doable. And it will create a tsunami of support.

  • Richard Cooper 8th Jul '16 - 5:27pm

    Good article Iain, and as a former Labour Party member I agree with so much in it. I personally think either May or Leadsom will be forced by public opinion to hold a general election in the autumn, and also that Corbyn will now hang on till then. Labour will be obliterated in the election and at that point he will have to go, but there will have been enough time for the Momentum gang to have organised his successor as leader. You have to remember that these people are not at all interested in winning power in the country – only in gaining control of the Labour Party. Appealing to the electorate is not on their agenda. At some point the PLP and moderate members will have to split. I believe the Labour Party as we knew it is finished and there will have to be a realignment – not of the left – but of the progressive centre. I have personally crossed the Rubicon and joined the Liberal Democrats and believe it is only a matter of time before many others follow. So many Corbynistas (apart from the SWP entryists) are young, idealistic, well educated people who have not yet realised that they are being duped by a very nasty set of hard left politicos and union leaders. But they will, and if we can get the our message and policies over to them the future could be very bright.

  • @Richard Cooper: “either May or Leadsom will be forced by public opinion to hold a general election in the autumn”

    Exactly how is “public opinion” supposed to do that? By making the Tories so popular that they’ll want to have an election before 2020 to pile up more seats? But an election is always a gamble, and the next PM is looking at four free years that she didn’t even have to run for the first time. And how would she expect to get Labour to agree to this new election if they were expecting to lose even more seats?

    Or, perhaps, you mean that their popularity would crash. But then there would be every incentive for the Tories not to call an election.

    Or, maybe Leadsom alienates the ‘moderate Tories’ (or May alienates the right), the party splits, the government falls, and Labour and the Tory rebels agree on new elections. But such an eventuality, if it happens, is a long way off, further than the autumn anyway, and would not be the PM’s choice.

    It’s funny that some Lib Dems have forgotten that elections can no longer just be ‘called’ by the PM like that — it’s the one really lasting monument of the 2010 coalition.

  • Dave Orbison 9th Jul '16 - 7:42am

    ‘Moderate’ Labour? As an ex LibDem voter, now Labour, I must take issue with this label. The ‘moderates’ supported the war in Iraq, opposed any inquiry, were pro-austerity, pro-school academies, pro-PFI and the increased snooping by the State. They are pro-Trident too. They have barely concealed contempt for members of the party who happen to disagree with them on policy issues. If you happen to disagree with them then they will variously label you as prejudiced in one way or another, a Trot, an extremist etc. With the party heading towards 600.000 members, apparently their latest complaint is that this is due to ‘latent SWP’ supporters crawling out of the woodwork. 600,000 of them really?

    The truth of the matter is that these ‘moderates’ who are intolerant of contrary views – they support democracy only when it suits them. Many are the product of Tony Blair’s restructuring of the party where all democratic forms of policy making. Under Blair the Leader’s Office had total control and many parliamentary candidates were simply parachuted into constituencies. These ‘moderates’ believe that the PLP is the be-all-and-end-all of the party.

    Where once they complained of the unions’ block vote when unions expressed a difference of opinion on policy, they now shout ‘foul’ over one-member- one-vote. Of course they are entitled to their views. The problem is they do not respect the views of others unless they happen to agree with their own.

    If you believe they are a ‘good fit’ for the LibDems you are welcome to them. Democrats they are not but how you think they will fit in with the LibDem preamble. Give it a couple of years and they’ll try changing that too.

  • Dave Orbison 9th Jul '16 - 9:13am

    Typo… Above should have read “where all democratic forms of policy making were removed”. Apologies

  • Christopher Haigh 9th Jul '16 - 9:29am

    Iain, this is a very real critique of the problems of avoiding perpetual Tory rule, now Labour has lost Scotland to the SNP. It would seem that unless our party the Liberal Democrats can recover lost seats back from the Tories we are doomed to constant undiluted rule. The so called moderate Blairite wing have failed the grassroots of the Labour Party in successive general elections. If the labour membership think there should be a change of tack in the policies and representation of their party then that is up to them and I would say a natural reaction to current circumstances.

  • jayne mansfield 9th Jul '16 - 11:02am

    @ Dave Orbison,
    As far as I am concerned Jeremy Corbyn is a politician who rose without trace during the least Labour leadership election.

    I find it quite extraordinary that people voted to put him on the ballot paper so that there was real choice of political stances, and then seem to have done everything in their power to undermine that the choice made was not the one that they wanted!

    The people of my acquaintance who are joining the Labour party in it’s latest surge, are not ‘Trots’. they are teachers and social workers who want a real alternative to Thatcherism, rather than a diluted version.

    The problem for me, is not the policies that Jeremy Corbyn has suggested so far, but his competence as a leader, he seems unable to persuade a team to his viewpoint, so how could he persuade the electorate?

    That said, I find the timing of the Labour rebellion, disgraceful, and it has made me re-evaluate my opinion of those MPs who have joined it. It is they who have made a laughing stock of a political party with a noble history,at a time when a strong, opposition to a probable return to a full throttle Thatcherism, is so crucial.

  • Allan Brame 9th Jul '16 - 12:56pm

    @jayne mansfield @Dave Orbison
    ‘I find it quite extraordinary that people voted to put him on the ballot paper so that there was real choice of political stances, and then seem to have done everything in their power to undermine that the choice made was not the one that they wanted! ‘

    A fair criticism of Dave Orbison’s own MP, the extraordinary Frank Field. I assure you that Mr Field will not be a ‘good fit’ for the Lib Dems

  • Dave Orbison 9th Jul '16 - 1:16pm

    @ Jayne Mansfield
    re Corbyn’s leadership and powers of persuasion.

    I think Corbyn is showing good leadership; he’s chosen sensible issues to campaign on and offered a clear direction each time. He conducts himself well by answering questions honestly – a refreshing change compared to the usual vague, evasive pap we get from many politicians. His personal conduct has been exemplary. He has never once made personal attacks on those with whom he disagrees.

    Labour Party membership has risen from ~140,000 to nearly 600,000 in less than 12 months since Corbyn stood for leader! The overwhelming majority of new members are, as you say, ordinary people who like what he says. I can think of no clearer testimony as to the success of his leadership and powers of persuasion than this phenomenal rise appeal to so many people.

    As for the PLP, Corbyn has gone out of his way to be inclusive offering many ‘Blair/Brown PLP supporters’ positions within the Shadow Cabinet and even a free vote on Syria. It is clear that many of the PLP were dead set against Corbyn from the very beginning.

    Some people are just not open to persuasion no matter what. That is their choice though and not the fault not Corbyn. Many of these anti-Corbyn PLP were imposed on local parties by Blair and their loyalties appear to be towards him over and above that to the party. They are incapable of accepting alternative policy positions or accepting criticism as was so perfectly illustrated post Chilcot. They believe they should have supreme power to govern the party irrespective of the views of the membership; to determine policy and to choose the leader. This mix of arrogance and infallibility despite losing the last two General Elections beggars belief.

    That they are not open to persuasion speaks volumes as to their weakness, not Corbyn’s. Politicians who cannot accept the basics of democracy damage people’s trust. They foster cynicism that feeds the belief that politicians cannot be trusted, that they pick and choose and there is one rule for them and another for us.
    I hope those on the PLP unable to accept democracy do leave the party. I would not want them to join the LibDems because I think they will damage the LibDems too. It is time for ordinary members of all parties to have their views properly reflected by those who have the privilege to represent their parties in Parliament.

  • With the conservatives moving towards their roots; the Labour party with a new younger membership (the LP is 3 times larger than it was 2 years ago, and 3 times larger than the Tory party today). If the old guard in the Labour PLP succeed in removing Corbyn as a begining to regaining control of the Labour party policy, that action will be more likely to cause a LP split and real damage to the Labour movement and its chances to remove the Tories in the next election.
    The battle for progressive policies may actually rely on the effective of the Liberal Democrats as an independent progressive force in politics to give lead to this country and to develop our liberal agenda, we should not be talking of coalitions with this or that breakaways, but gaining more members.
    In the 2016 assembly elections elections, I voted Plaid Cymru. Many Welsh people that voted leave among other reasons because they thought the UK was not representing them in the EU and they would be better, some how out. I voted to remain in the EU and would vote to rejoin a democratic reformed EU.
    A recent opinion poll taken in the last week shows that 52% of Wales would now vote to remain/rejoin the EU, but half of those questioned will do so as an independent Wales.
    Does this show (with what has happened in Scotland) that the UK regime has failed? Only the Liberal democrats can save the union with a new written devolved democratic and federal constitution, if not, then add to the list of ex-states: USSR, Yugoslavia, UK ? – all centralized states ruling over smaller nations.

  • Dave Orbison 9th Jul '16 - 6:29pm

    @ Allan Brame – Yes Field’s my MP.

    Field’s approach to Corbyn is contradictory. He nominated Corbyn to give party members ‘a wider choice’, yet now he wants to overturn the emphatic mandate given to Corbyn.

    Field campaigned for Brexit, against party policy, yet supported the ‘no confidence’ moves against Corbyn, ironically triggered by Corbyn’s alleged failing to be sufficiently ‘pro-Remain’.

    This all the more bizarre since Angela Eagle, praised Corbyn on 13th June stating “Jeremy is up and down the country, pursuing an itinerary that would make a 25-year-old tired, he has not stopped. We are doing our best, but if we are not reported, it is very difficult.”

    Having campaigned for Brexit many anti-Corbyn PLP will soon be on our screens demanding that Corbyn and the PLP support the modernisation of Trident as it is party policy. They’ll do so with a straight face having disregard party policy of the EU. They’ll also avoid discussing how the current Trident policy was ‘adopted’. Blair stripped the party of policy debate years before. His approach to policy mirrored his style in Cabinet. He presented the party with fait accompli policies determined by a small Westminster elite who believed themselves to be infallible.

    Field’s spoke in his CLP debate on Trident last year. I was there. However, the CLP voted against modernisation Field has made clear he’ll ignore his party’s views.
    He’s one of far too many in the PLP who have an ambivalent attitude towards democracy. It’s OK if it enables their election – but otherwise it’s a nuisance, an inconvenience, as they know best.

    The real issue at stake within the Labour Party is not really the strengths/weaknesses of Corbyn, Eagle or whoever but how the party intends to function going forward. Will policy formulation be democratic – from the ground-up, subject to rigorous debate with all sections of the party including the PLP, or will policy simply be determined by an elite and offered to the party for rubber stamping?

    Corbyn wants to introduce real democracy in relation to policy formulation. This is another red line issue for some of the PLP. It’s as if the thought of asking ‘ordinary people’, the party members is offensive. Of course they are OK with token consultation just so long as they outcome agrees with the PLP.

    What sort of democrats are these within the PLP? You are welcome to them.

  • Two leaders:
    Mr Campbell
    Mr Corbyn
    Both elected by the mass membership of their party and both became victims of a media witch-hunt as they want to change policies of the country.

    The difference is that Mr Campbell had loyal MPs that stood behind him against those unfair attacks by the media,
    until he himself decided to resign after being worn down.

    For Mr Corbyn, it is 170 of his own party’s MPs that moves against him !
    Where’s the MP’s loyality to the party and membership?

    Which party do you prefer ?

  • I’m unaware of any evidence to suggest that the number of votes a party gets in a general election bears the slightest relationship to the number of members it nominally has.

    If increasing membership numbers were an end in itself, the party could just pay people to sign up. . .

  • Peter Watson 10th Jul '16 - 10:34am

    @Ernest “The difference is that Mr Campbell had loyal MPs that stood behind him against those unfair attacks by the media,”
    Maybe, maybe not. And what about Mr. Kennedy?
    Ironically, it looks like Mr. Clegg might be the only recent leader (before Mr. Farron) behind whom the MPs stood loyally despite all of the damage to the party under his leadership.

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