Today something momentous happened in British politics but nobody noticed. Watch out for More United and Paddy Ashdown. This could be a game changer.
24 Jul 2016 at 11:59
Something rather momentous happened this morning which went largely unnoticed. Whisked in at the last moment into the Marr studio Paddy Ashdown launched a new political movement, More United. Well, not so much as a launch as a cry for help. For now.
There have been whispers of a realignment of British politics since Corbyn and his goons hijacked the Labour Party. The sad truth is that Labour has died as a Parliamentary movement and has become an agit prop revolutionary cult. There is almost a Messianic belief that the only way to achieve real socialism is to take to the streets and social media. Well, that may not achieve anything much except to give a sense of purpose to the dispossessed with a visceral hatred for capitalism and Parliamentary democracy. And they are a scary bunch. That MPs and their staff face threats and personal abuse both physical and on social media from Corbynista henchmen is scary. That these people also stoke up anti semitism is terrifying. What I cannot make my mind up over is whether Corbyn is aware what his supporters are doing in his name. It’s all very well condemning threats, violence and anti semitism but it’s a waste of time unless you do something about it. The problem is that he lives within the bubble of the mob where he is feted. And the unofficial line is that this is a clever bit of PR from the Portman Group run by wicked Blairites. It would be laughable were it not so tragic.
It’s pretty damn obvious why the coup will be a miserable failure. MPs have not grasped that Corbynistas regard Parliamentary democracy as a means to an end. They honestly thought that by a mass resignation from the shadow cabinet it would somehow shame Corbyn to do the decent thing and go. Bonkers. He now has spokesmen in his own image. So then Eagle had a crack at the same psychology. Tom Watson went to see the unions to stitch a deal. Disaster. So now they are left with Owen Smith a former PR man for drugs companies who makes Tim Farron sound exiting. He will be lynched with his severed head placed on a spike outside Labour HQ as a warning. Conference will be stuffed with Corbynistas who will pass barmy motions making Labour unelectable. And then one by one moderate MPs will be thrown to the wolves. So what do they do? There is no point in waiting quietly for death and hoping to be spared. They are walking the red mile already as their constituency parties have been infiltrated. A split is inevitable. They have two choices. Set up a moderate party using the infrastructure of the Cooperative movement. Or they could have a close look at More United. And what about the Lib Dems? Don’t give them a second thought as they make Mickey Mouse look like a political colossus.
Then there is May’s Tory party. She strikes just the right note. She has had a good week where she dominated the chamber. But she has a majority of just sixteen. As I predicted it didn’t take long before the purists started making demands. Well, twenty four of them had breakfast (I imagine it was a full English with Wiltshire headbangers) in dining room B. So if you think that the Tory party would suddenly transform into a cuddly loyal bunch of May poodles you really need to get some counselling. The problem that Patrick McLoughlin has is to grapple with the uncomfortable truth that that the Tories only have about 150,000 members with an average age of sixty eight, with two thirds to the right of Genghis Khan. Somehow he (Patrick, as Ghenghis is sadly unavailable) needs to make them look moderate, relevant and in touch. Quite a tall order. So are we going to see any Tory MPs casting a sly glance at Paddy Ashdown’s ankle? Highly unlikely. At the moment. But they could leech Tory voters on the Remain wing.
We live in a age of distrust of professional politicians. And we have a bitterly divided nation. More United should not be written off as a gimmick. In many ways they resemble the old SDP. Pro European moderates with no party allegiances who want to heal the nation with motherhood and apple souffle. Before you scoff, remember that the SDP attracted about 30 Labour MPs to cross the floor when the Bennites took control. And they posed one hell of a threat to the Tories. We don’t know too much about them so far, but we will. Very soon.
Rather worryingly for Tim Farron, Ashdown did not rule putting up More United candidates against the Lib Dems. All this is is a long way off as is the election. But if you can hear a gentle grinding sound in the background it is the tectonic plates of British politics beginning to move. Any politician underestimates Paddy Ashdown at their peril.