The Labour civil war appears to have begun. Keir Starmer deciding to make settlement payments to seven former party employees turned whistle blowers was the catalyst – but the Labour left were itching for a fight, so almost anything could have started it. Jeremy Corbyn retaliated with a statement that appears designed to ratchet tensions up even further. In the wake of the Corbyn statement, rumours began to swirl that Corbyn was going to have the Labour whip removed; this was squashed by the leader’s office. Given what I’ve seen over the last few days, it appears obvious to me that at some stage, almost certainly in the near figure, Starmer is going to have to remove the whip from Corbyn. It is clear that Jeremy is going to keep pushing the envelope until Starmer’s hand is forced. It is for this reason that I would argue he should do it right now – kick Jeremy Corbyn out of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
I realise taking the whip away from a Labour MP who was the leader only a few months back is a huge step and not without large risks. It is almost certain that some of the fiercest Corbynistas in the PLP would do things that would cause Starmer to make them suffer the same fate, reducing the already small size of the parliamentary party even further. Corbyn could launch his own party, getting the young left-wingers to flock across, possibly greatly depleting Labour’s membership, not to mention taking votes away from Labour. This would make an already difficult task, ie getting a parliamentary majority, even trickier.
Now let’s look at the arguments for removing the whip from Corbyn as soon as possible. As I said, Corbyn looks set to force Starmer’s hand. He seems to want to provoke and isn’t going to go into some sort of semi-retirement, that much is abundantly clear now. Starmer probably wants to wait for JC to do something so egregious everyone agrees Corbyn has to go – yet nothing like this is ever going to happen. The cult around Corbyn is just that, so there will never be something the former leader does that will be bad enough for those who have really drank the Kool Aid to agree with Starmer kicking Corbyn out into the Socialist Worker Party cold. In other words, there never will be a better time, so just go for it now.
If there is another left party created, it will fail, very, very badly. As I’ve said elsewhere before, it will probably help Starmer – what could put more clear water between the new Labour leader and the unfortunate recent past than the fact that the old guard has literally left the party? The next general election is going to be more binary than any held in the past thirty years. The question will be stark: do you want Boris Johnson, or whomever is Tory leader by then, to continue being prime minister, or do you want a change of guard? The fact that the Lib Dems are currently doing all they can to obliterate their own personality as a party will only aid this along. Starmer shouldn’t worry about the Corbynistas leaving. In fact, he should help it on its way – starting with Corbyn himself.
I have a book out now called “Politics is Murder”. It follows the tale of a woman named Charlotte working at a failing think tank who has got ahead in her career in a novel way – she is a serial killer. One day, the police turn up at her door and tell her she is a suspect in a murder – only thing is, it is one she had nothing to do with. There is also a plot against the Foreign Secretary and some gangsters thrown into the mix while Charlotte tries to find out who is trying to frame her for a murder she didn’t commit.
Also: there is a subplot around the government trying to built a stupid bridge, which now seems a charming echo of a more innocent time!