Following on from yesterday, according to Dan Hodges there are already two “resistance movements” emerging in the Labour party:
Over the past few days two different strategies have emerged, which have been dubbed the “Free French” and the “Maquis” strategies.
The Free French strategy involves effectively withdrawing all support from Corbyn. MPs will not serve in his shadow cabinet, they will not observe the whip, they will not be bound by any sense of collective responsibility to the official party line. Those advocating that strategy are being compared to De Gaulle and those French forces that retreated into exile in Britain, then returned to the French continent on D-Day to liberate their homeland.
The Maquis strategy involves “staying behind enemy lines and fighting”, according to one MP. Existing members of the shadow cabinet will organise slates, and stand for election in the shadow cabinet elections Corbyn has pledged to reintroduce. From here they will oppose Corbyn’s more radical policy initiatives and start to construct an independent base from within the PLP and the wider Labour party, which they will use to strike out against him when they judge the time is right.
This must be wonderful news for the Conservative government. The Corbynite Labour party on the opposition benches will be so deeply racked by civil war that they’ll be unable to mount an effective opposition to the Cameron government. This should make it much easier for Cameron to completely dismantle Tony Blair’s nanny state – if he wants to.
Except I don’t think he wants to. I read somewhere that today’s Conservatives have pretty much become Social Democrats. Which seems about right.
And this may trigger a struggle for the soul of the Conservative party that mirrors the current struggle taking place in the Labour party. Are they conservatives or aren’t they? Or were they so transfixed by Blair that they’ve all become Blairites?
Even if David Cameron is a Blairite Conservative, I rather suspect that most Conservatives are actually small-c conservatives who would have joined the Labour party if they’d thought that highly of Blair and New Labour. And now that there won’t be a credible opposition, I suspect that they’ll gradually revert to type.
In addition, the Conservative party lost a lot of votes to UKIP. They lost votes on the right, not the left. The voters had moved en masse to the right. They’d either left Labour and Lib Dems to vote Conservative. Or they’d left the Conservatives to vote UKIP. Those were both shifts to the right. I shifted much further: I shifted from the Lib Dems to UKIP, skipping the Conservatives completely, with the smoking ban acting as the principal driver.
There are 4 million votes out to the right of the Conservative party. If they want to attract those voters, the Conservative party is going to have to shift rightwards. Conservative MPs may be divided over Europe, but most of them voted against the smoking ban.
And the simplest thing they could do right now to attract some of those votes back would be to unilaterally relax the smoking ban. Britain’s 10+ million smokers would be very grateful for that. So what if it wasn’t in their manifesto: the Labour party’s 2007 draconian smoking ban wasn’t in their manifesto either. They could justify it on the economic grounds of seeking to support the ailing hospitality industry, or in order to rebuild broken communities. And if the health zealots protest, then de-fund the health zealots – they’ve been living off taxpayers for too long anyway. Britain’s 10+ million smokers would be grateful for that too. And so would a great many other people.
Anyway, if nothing else, UK politics is getting interesting again.