Last night, the Hackney North CLP passed an amendment 45 to 35 that essentially ratified the point that got Chris Williamson suspended from the party, just with more detail and words like “fact” put in quotations. That was at the end of a day which saw Lisa Nandy and Wes Stressing arguing on live television about the Labour Party’s handling of anti-semitism within the organisation with shadow chancellor John McDonnell. Nandy, like Tom Watson, is from what used to be called, not all that long ago either, the left of the party, the old Brownite wing. The fact that these people are in open revolt against the leadership tells you a lot about the current state of Labour.
What Corbyn has done with both the luke-warm backing for a People’s Vote and suspending Chris Williamson is buy himself a bit more time. Neither of these things would have happened had The Independent Group not formed, I think that’s fairly obvious. Basically, Corbyn had to do those two things mentioned in order to avoid a large enough walkout from the PLP to dent his hopes of winning an election beyond repair. Yet all they are acting as are plasters to stop the immediate bleeding; the wound underneath continues to get worse.
For weeks now, a lot of pundits having been calling the People’s Vote dead; I have always thought this very premature. I think we’re down to two possibilities now: either May’s vote passes somehow or we’ll eventually have another vote. The Tory Eurosceptics do not see it the same way and seem determined to vote the deal down again (and again, if needs be). Therefore, I think a second EU referendum is now more likely to happen than not.
Whatever happens next on Brexit, none of it bodes well for Labour. If the deal gets through, with the Eurosceptics in the Conservative party finally understanding that it is well within their proclaimed interests to vote for it, then there is no reason to hang around the Labour Party any longer, particularly if you’re facing deselection. And Corbyn needs to push ahead with deselection: the current PLP will never let him go ahead with the wackier things he wants to do, which also happen to be the things he seems to want to do the most. If there is another referendum, it will rip Labour apart. Corbyn has damned the party; all he can do now is try and keep it together as long as possible.