For Labour rebels, it will always be tomorrow!
Leaving a political party is difficult. The emotional ties, the history, the sense of being part of something meaningful. The list is endless.
So why do I bring this up? Well over the last couple of weeks, rumours have emerged again about a new party. Disgruntled Labour MPs would resign the whip and form their own grouping in the House of Commons. Possibly taking some Tory MPs with them. One Labour MP has argued “it’s a question of when rather than if.”
I remain sceptical about these headlines. I do not dispute that Labour MPs are unhappy with the leadership. And I do not dispute that many Labour MPs do not believe Jeremy Corbyn is fit to be Prime Minister. Or that John McDonnell is fit to be Chancellor. However the potential rebels always seem to be waiting for one last trigger point.
Firstly it was the leadership’s response to antisemitism which was going to drive the resignations. Then it was the threat of deselections. Now it is the party’s official line of Brexit. Forgive me for sounding critical but there always seems to be an excuse the rebels provide for stepping back from the brink. It is almost like they are waiting for the perfect storm of events. However in politics this rarely happens.
Of course the same arguments against setting up a new party exist. Our political system is not favourable to insurgent parties. Could you appeal to Tory MPs and voters? Would it simply split the anti-Tory vote? Would it just be a repeat of the SDP? All are valid concerns and will continue to be valid concerns for as long as this conversation persist.
My issue is not with the argument about whether a new political party could succeed. I can accept the case both for and against. My issue is with Labour MPs briefing the press about how a split is imminent yet failing to act. At some stage these MPs, many of whom are talented figures will have to put up or shut up.
It is always far easier to talk about a split than actually enact one. That is why if you ask me when Labour rebels will move my answer will always be tomorrow but never today. It will always be something for the future but never for the present.