The logical outcome of the UK’s current political situation is for a large section of Conservative Party MP’s to defect to Keir Starmer’s well right of centre, pro-Brexit, New Labour Party.
Every now and then a number of Westminster MPs change party, to long term political effect. In 1886 The Liberal Unionists, opposed to Gladstone’s policy of Irish Home Rule, crossed the floor en masse and allied with the Conservatives. This led to Tory rule for 17 of the next 20 years, and after a while the alliance became one as the Conservative and Unionist Party.
In 1981 just four MPs, but very senior, left the Labour Party, principally in opposition to nuclear disarmament, to form the Social Democratic Party and ally with the Liberal Party. This resulted in 16 years of consecutive Tory government. Eventual merger formed the Liberal Democrats.
Tory MPs are currently in an incredible funk as they face almost certain loss of their jobs at the next general election. Keeping their job, perks and salary is the overwhelming preoccupation of almost all current MPs. Tory MPs are actively considering ditching the chaotic Truss experiment after a few weeks, and feverishly telling any passing journalist about it.
But there is a much simpler way they can keep their jobs. Cross the floor and join the Labour Party, after negotiating with Starmer that they will be accepted as the Labour candidate in their constituency at the next election.
There is no ideological obstacle. The Labour Party’s current slogan is “Make Brexit Work”. If you stood on “Get Brexit Done”, it is not a big switch.
Sam Tarry MP has just been deselected as a Labour candidate for being a little bit left wing and for disobeying Starmer’s order not to appear on an official RMT picket line.
Red Wall Brexiteer Tory MPs need not worry about losing the racist vote. Starmer’s party are more than happy to pander to anti-immigrant racism.
Here is the Labour Party’s impeccably right wing Shadow Chancellor, Rachel Reeves, calling for more deportation:
(I can’t embed that video, here is the link)
I am not aware that it is possible to be too right wing for Keir Starmer’s New Labour. I know personally a number of people who have been kicked out for being too left wing. Has anybody been kicked out for being too right wing? Serious question.
The Forde Report said there was a “Hierarchy of racism” in the Labour Party, and that while anti-semitism led to immediate expulsion, Islamophobia and prejudice against BAME people were not taken seriously enough. I can therefore see no reason why Tory MPs would feel in the least uncomfortable.
Or take the case of John McTernan. This is from the famous Leaked Report on the Labour Party:
“John McTernan, meanwhile, formerly involved in New Labour and a delegate to 2016 party conference, was repeatedly reported from 25 July onwards for abusive language on Twitter and elsewhere, including describing Labour MPs who nominated Corbyn as “morons”; tweeting twice that Corbyn was a “traitor”; describing “Corbynistas” as racist; telling an SNP MP that he should “Come down to Peckham and try saying that, mate”; calling Corbyn a “Putin-hugging, terrorist-loving, Trident-hater”; and writing in the Daily Telegraph that all of Corbyn’s supporters were “online trolls”.”
“No action was taken, and McTernan received the staff decision “No action – removed at referral”. On 18 August, however, Dan Hogan did report a member of McTernan’s CLP, Omar Baggili, who – in response to an article by McTernan in “The Telegraph” urging the Conservative government to “crush the rail unions once and for all” – tweeted at him “seriously John why haven’t you got yourself a Tory membership card. They’re anti unions & pro privatisation like you.” Baggili was suspended for “abuse”.””
In addition to writing in his Telegraph column that the Tory government should “crush the rail unions once and for all”, McTernan produced gems like this one:
Despite formal complaints, Labour HQ staff refused to take any action against McTernan’s membership for being too right wing: and that was while Corbyn was leader.
So in crossing the floor, Tory MPs safeguarding their jobs could respectably console themselves that they are not joining any kind of left wing project.
For Starmer, there would be a big attraction in accepting the Tory MPs. There is a danger that Labour candidates in some Tory seats may be residual left wingers. As Starmer’s main focus is to protect his leadership against the pro-union, pro-immigration and pro-EU elements in his party (aka the membership), a good accession of fellow right wingers from the Tory Party would be welcome to him.
It would of course be terrific publicity for the Knight of the Realm, and may hasten the general election. If he sends out signals the doors are open, he might even get enough Tory MPs coming over to destroy the Tory majority in the Commons.
Perhaps none of this will happen. Logic and politics are uncomfortable bedfellows. But I expect the term “crossing the floor” will be bandied about a fair bit by political journalists over the next six months.
Forgive me for pointing out that my ability to provide this coverage is entirely dependent on your kind voluntary subscriptions which keep this blog going. This post is free for anybody to reproduce or republish, including in translation. You are still very welcome to read without subscribing.
Unlike our adversaries including the Integrity Initiative, the 77th Brigade, Bellingcat, the Atlantic Council and hundreds of other warmongering propaganda operations, this blog has no source of state, corporate or institutional finance whatsoever. It runs entirely on voluntary subscriptions from its readers – many of whom do not necessarily agree with the every article, but welcome the alternative voice, insider information and debate.
Subscriptions to keep this blog going are gratefully received.
Choose subscription amount from dropdown box:
Paypal address for one-off donations: [email protected]
Alternatively by bank transfer or standing order:
Account number 3 2 1 5 0 9 6 2
Sort code 6 0 – 4 0 – 0 5
Bank address Natwest, PO Box 414, 38 Strand, London, WC2H 5JB
Subscriptions are still preferred to donations as I can’t run the blog without some certainty of future income, but I understand why some people prefer not to commit to that.