Needless to say, The Independent Group could possibly flop from here. There could be no more resignations from the two big parties, for starters, which would leave it dead in the water, the 11 souls stranded on their own political island. The group could really screw up – we’ve had the unfortunate “funny tinge” moment, right off the bat, after all.
On the other hand, this could be the real start of political realignment in this country. It is clear from the reactions of both May and Corbyn that neither of them are taking this in any way seriously enough. The Lib Dems meanwhile are treating it like it’s all a good thing, when in fact The Independent Group succeeding will probably mean the end of the party as anything other than a very, very minority tarnished brand when most of its politicians defect to TIG.
Why are they all reacting this way? May, as we know, cannot pivot. Hell, she cannot even look sideways, never mind turn in another direction. She is convinced that somehow convincing the ERG to vote for her deal is the only game in town. She hasn’t really considered no deal seriously since she is convinced her deal will eventually prevail. When it does, the Conservative party will be brought together, so this line of thinking goes.
Corbyn is experiencing something different. I actually think he is kind of enjoying all of this. More and more I’m coming back to my initial view of him that he’s never really wanted to be prime minister, and may even find the idea of it a little icky. I think he’d much rather Labour have say, 40 MPs, but with them all “pure” socialists. I’m getting the impression that he’d be much happier as the leader of a large protest movement with a small parliamentary wing then as the guy who has to sort of this country’s problems out. It’s why he’s acted so seemingly stupidly this week, all but openly encourage more MPs to jump ship – it’s because I think that’s what he wants to happen.
Matthew Goodwin, the political academic, tweeted this week that if there was room for any new party at all, it would be for a socially conservative, economically left-leaning, anti-immigration, pro-Brexit party. He was only half right. Politics is becoming a split between the group Goodwin described and a socially liberal, pro-immigration, anti-Brexit party – with little political room for anything else. It’s becoming clearer that Labour benefitted in 2017 when a lot of voters went with them since they felt they were the closest thing to the latter party and it was the only way to stop the former party, which they identified with the Tories, getting a majority. Which, let’s remind ourselves here, they succeeded in doing. There’s more than enough anti-Brexit voters for that.
If the Tories and Labour don’t start taking the threat The Independence Group poses to their very survival seriously, they will look back with regret. Well, Theresa May might, anyhow.