At the time of writing, it’s 36 days, 15 hours, 12 minutes and 28 seconds until the day of Brexit. I know checking my Brexit countdown app every morning may not be the most efficient use of my time, but it would be useful for the media and politicians to give it a glance once in a while.
You may have seen this week’s distraction from Brexit: eight Labour and three Conservative MP’s have defected from their respective parties to form The Independent Group (TIG) in Parliament. Although the group have no official leadership or party status in the UK, they have a clear ideological goal to break away from current mainstream politics. Despite this, TIG seem to be already polling at 10% indicated by a recent YouGov poll, it will be interesting to see if the market research outfit can be wrong again following Brexit. Among others, the members include the infamous Anna Soubry, Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger and have one common theme of stopping Brexit.
The initial breakaway has been compared to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) split from a radical left-wing Labour Party in the early eighties, led by Michael Foot. The move certainly does have comparable elements when assessing Jeremy Corbyn’s current socialist agenda, but the big difference is votes will now be taken from both major parties. The Labour leadership’s decision to approve suspended former member Derek Hatton [Ed: Hatton has already been suspended from Labour, after 48 hours …] so soon after the announcement can only cement the TIG’s doubts. You may be left wondering if Hatton’s Militant Tendency movement was any different from Momentum today. The SDP, now irrelevant in British politics, did play a role in the 1983 General Election achieving 11.6% of the vote paving the way for a Conservative government, can UKIP capitalise on these divisions?
Nigel Farage took to social media to formulate his argument: “This moment may not look very exciting, but it is the beginning of something bigger in British politics #realignment”. I certainly don’t agree with everything Nigel has said post Brexit or his own emerging Party, but I can’t help to agree on this issue. It starts to show the disillusionment that even paid MP’s are starting to experience at the hands of mainstream politics. I think even the most ardent Tories can agree we are in one of the worst governments of recent times which pales into insignificance by the Labour opposition. The political climate for years in the US, Italy, France, Austria, Sweden, Greece, etc is moving towards real populism, policies for the people. I think this is one step in the direction for the UK following suit and my opinion is this shift can only benefit one party whose policies have been consistent for years with this rhetoric since inception, UKIP.
Whether the inevitable shift is positive for British politics remains to be seen but we must still judge the situation in a systematic and democratic process. All eleven MP’s stood on party manifestos during the 2017 UK elections. This week TIG members have defended their decisions and claim voters supported themselves individually irrespective of party values. However, Labour and Conservative manifestos both clearly stated during the campaign to honour and respect the Brexit outcome, so how can any MP who stands for a second referendum justify a betrayal of the electorate? I would urge the MP’s if they have any sense of democratic process to call By-Elections like that of many before them inclusive of UKIP’s former parliamentarians Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless. It seems as if when it’s a version of their own “Peoples Vote” they are not as keen.
Additionally, this week has seen the campaign to stop ISIS runaway Shamima Begum from re-entering the UK result in success. The decision has been taken by Sajid Javid, The Home Secretary, to revoke her citizenship and side with the overwhelming will of the people. Shamima has recently been the centre of a nationwide debate from politicians and journalists alike who seem to have been singing from the same hymn sheet despite Sky News reporting that 76% of UK residents do not want her to return. The victory has culminated in no small part due to the campaigning, support and petitions from the public. This goes to show that a true sense of populism as discussed above can bring momentous change.