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There’s rarely a dull week in Westminster these days, However this week, several Labour & Tory MPs thought they could up the anti. It began when seven MPs left the Labour Party, joined by another shortly afterwards. Then on Wednesday, the media circus hit it’s peak when 3 Tory MPs joining the group. They claim to want to “change UK politics” but, their message so far has been very clear. Business as usual, Tory business that is.
It’s no surprise this group has emerged, reports of a new centrist party forming have been rife since last year. So lets go over recent events.
On February 18th, 7 Labour MPs announced they had resigned from the Labour party.
The “seven dwarfs” as referred to by some consisted of; Luciana Berger, Ann Coffey, Mike Gapes, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith and Chuka Umunna,
They had varying reasons for leaving, with antisemitism and a lack of action on calling for a peoples vote the main drivers.
Now don’t get me wrong, Luciana Berger HAS been subject to some very hateful abuse but, as previously reported 90% had come from non Labour Party members. Still, we must do more to tackle all forms of racism and bigotry in society in general. Labour can only deal with what their members do.
Now I’m not going to deal with the pantomime of events like Angela Smith’s “funny tinge” comments as that’s been done already by many others.
What I want to detail is the threat the Independent Group face to the working class, the sick and disabled and those less fortunate.
While I already knew the Labour MPs who quit weren’t really for the people, pro war, pro cuts to welfare and pro tax cuts, it was Anna Soubry’s resignation speech that made me take notice.
In a rambling about “One Nation Conservatism” she was full of PRAISE for the austerity measures her former party enacted . The same austerity that has seen thousands dying, homelessness rocket and the near death of the welfare state.
Still not a surprise from a careerist like Anna Soubry. However, then Chris Leslie revealed some of the groups other policies.
Leslie, the MP for Nottingham East, described some of Labour’s policies that he and the group are opposed too. A stand out one for me, was his stance on retaining tuition fees on the basis of “how do you pay for it.” The Scottish National Party brought in free tuition in 2008, and that was prior to it having any tax powers to offset the cost.
With young voters becoming more involved in politics this seems like a poor choice of policies to open with.
Then there’s the question of whether to re-nationalise the water system. This is known to be popular with voters from all parties but again The Independent Group (TIG) don’t seem to think so.
This could be to do with the fact the Angela Smith is part of the group. Smith has been outspoken on water ownership for some time. She sits on the All Parliamentary Water Group which is funded mostly by, you guessed it, the water companies.
Scottish brought water into public ownership in 2002 with the merger of 3 regional water authorities. It is owned 100% by the Scottish government who also set its policy and who the company are answerable to. This also means regardless of where you live in Scotland, you all pay the same amount based on the council tax band of your property.
Plus, if anything goes wrong the government can intervene and act whereas in England the private companies are left to their own accord.
Why would you want to prevent making something as basic as water, the same price for all? Why would you want competition to drive prices up for the most basic of utilities?
Austerity – A difference of opinion?
Chuka Umuna the MP for Streatham, spoke to Sky News on Sunday and did say that he “differed in opinion” with Anna Soubry on austerity. For someone who sees TIG becoming a registered party, that’s a pretty gaping difference of opinion.
You’re either against cutting money from terminal cancer sufferers or for. It’s not an opinion, it’s a policy.
All MPs in TIG either voted for the coalitions Welfare Reform Act 2012, or simply abstained thus allowing it to pass. None of them bar Heidi Allen have said much about the rise of foodbank use.
Unless it’s been Brexit related none of them have said much at all about issues affecting the working class.
The group also don’t want to raise the top rate of income tax, I suspect as it would affect all of them, can’t have MPs paying more tax now can we?
They seem content on letting the railways continue to decline in private hands, despite again a strong opinion nationally to re-nationalise.
They say change, I say same old
Now why would a prospective party want to oppose so many known popular policies before they’ve even started? The answer is; spite.
Since Jeremy Corbyn came to power, love him or loathe him he has reinvigorated politics. He’s led a revival of the working class, something MPs have lost touch with.
I’m not disputing there has been abuse towards MPs. However, it is not helped when you allege to be a Labour MP whilst simultaneously doing everything you can to prevent it get into government.
After the 2017 General Election you’d think they’d have reassessed their stance but instead they dug in and now here we are.
The thing that should ALARM anyone affected by austerity is the group stating they’d SUPPORT Theresa May in a motion of no confidence. If you were truly a party who wanted change, it’s not a move you’d make.
TIG MP Gavin Shulkner also revealed that he, Chuka Umuna and Anna Soubry offered a confidence and supply motion to David Liddington when they met in Downing Street following the first defeat of Theresa May’s deal. So whilst still in Labour and Anna’s case the Tories, they were already conspiring to prop up the hostile Tory government.
The Independent Group is not a party for change. It’s not even a refreshing alternative. It is an attempt to continue to make the Working Class pay for the country whilst the rich reap the benefits.
If they had any honour they’d have called by-elections to prove their case. But no they say they thousands they gained a the 2017 election was because of who they are and not because they were Labour MPs.
In 2019 I think we can be honest that despite the system being designed, where you choose the MP on their merits, in-fact it’s highly likely you vote by their party. Maybe not in all cases but I’d say that’s the truth in most.
A petition for Parliament to debate whether MPs should face a by-election if they defect, has gained over 23,000 signatures in 2 days. If you wish to sign it you can do so here.
If you have been affected by austerity you need to think long and hard if you’re thinking of voting for a TIG MP. All it will do is enable more suffering and more deaths for years to come. I in all good conscience could not stand for that, I hope you are the same.