The big news this week is about defectors. Not the sort of defectors who go and live in a foreign country, but political defectors in our own parliament.
It started with a group of disgruntled Labour Party members of parliament. They resigned from the Labour Party in a public fashion, calling a press conference to announce their reasons. Some said it was about Antisemitism. That is just the usual charge against the party, for not having a sympathetic stance on the state of Israel. Rather than address the human rights record of Israel, provide answers to what they are doing to other ethnic groups in their own country, or how Israel is moving further to the Far Right, they use the hackneyed accusation of Antisemitism, a catch-all that sounds great in a soundbite. But we all know it isn’t about religion and culture. It is simply about the actions of a religiously-dominated country imposing its will on those who do not share the same religion.
Some of those defectors showed more honesty. They were leaving because of Brexit. They had voted to Remain, and they lost. They want the Labour Party to promise a second referendum, and the leaders refuse to do so. So rather than work from within, promoting their own agenda, they chose to resign, and to sit in parliament as Independents. But they are not Independents in the real sense, as they rode in on the back of the organisation they now claim to revile. They are a small band of Centrist politicians who have never been Socialists, and never really espoused the true origins of the working-class Labour movement. They are the kind of people who want to just tell the voters what is best for them, and then hope that they just go away and do what they are told. We were soon hearing about this new ‘movement’, middle-ground politics, neither one thing nor the other. They complained that Labour had been taken over by left-wing extremists. In other words, their party members were now actually Socialists, as they should have been all along.
Soon after, those eight Labour politicians were joined by three members of the Conservative Party. They are also people who voted to Remain, in the EU referendum. They also want a second referendum, in the hope of changing the result. They were honest with their reasons. They don’t like the way Mrs May is continuing to insist on a departure from Europe, and they are unhappy with their colleagues on the Right of the party, who are urging a no-deal Brexit. They want to offer the public a new political alternative, a Centrist utopia, where they tell us what is good for us, and we quietly go away. They have happily joined this new group started by the Labour Party defectors, and I suspect it will have a new name soon. Something like Social Democrats, perhaps?
This is music to the ears of Vince Cable, and his pathetic Liberal Democrat Party. He has rushed to embrace the turncoats, and offered to work with them at any level. He may well be offering them senior roles in his own party, should they choose to join. More likely, these unreliable self-seeking politicos will swallow him whole, and his party with him.
But I am not unreasonable. Politicians should of course be allowed to resign, if they find themselves at odds with the policies of their own party. That is only fair and right. But it should come with consequences. The people that voted them in to those well-paid jobs did so because of the parties they represented. Someone voting Labour might not even have known the name of the candidate, and could have been voting out of loyalty to a party, or from their own basic political beliefs. The same applies to those who voted for the four Conservatives. They expected their elected members to support the party they voted for. Or what was the point of an election in the first place? So my proposal is that there should be a new election in every constituency where the member has chosen to resign from their party, and claim to be an ‘Independent’. Let them give up their lucrative jobs, finance their own campaigns, and then see if they really enjoy the support of the public that they still claim to represent.
But no, that won’t happen. The eleven people who claim to be so troubled by their ‘conscience’ were not troubled enough to leave behind the salaries, and the position of influence that comes with the job. Instead, they will just cause trouble, make vacuous statements, and continue to insist that they are doing the right thing by those who elected them.
And they will continue to draw that £77,400 ($101,130) a year salary, plus all expenses.