Former left-wing Labour MP Bob Marshall-Andrews has defected to the Liberal Democrats, labeling Labour as a “political basketcase” and talking of:
The abject failure of the Labour leadership to participate in the Brexit debate, a failure which provided a concession of both votes and credibility to Ukip…
At present there is manifestly a huge vacuum on the centre left represented in substantial part by the 48% of the electorate who rejected Brexit and the lies on which it was based. To many, including me, there was a folorn hope that reformed and radical Labour Party would rise to the historic occasion. It has not and shows no real sign of doing so…
The Liberal Democrats have grasped the political challenges of the 21st century as surely as their predecessors in the Liberal Party failed to comprehend those which faced the world a hundred year ago. For that reason I will sign up and do my best to lend support in my political dotage. After nearly fifty years as a Labour man I do so with a heavy heart but at least with some radical hope for my grandchildren.
That Bob Marshall-Andrews, a socialist, was seen as close to Jeremy Corbyn in the days of tiny backbench left-wing rebellions both makes this abandonment of the party all the more damaging a move, but also makes his choice of the Liberal Democrats as his new home one which the party should welcome with a touch of caution.
Welcome the winning over of someone who agrees with the party on Brexit, but cautious with memories of how another hard left defection to the Liberal Democrats in a general election campaign ended up – signifying a confusion in the public’s mind as to what the party really stood for, rather than the imminence of a major political breakthrough.
The Liberal Democrats must continue to carve out a distinctive role as a party of our own, not simply as the home for those who project a prefect version of their own party on to us.
I, of course, have a thought or two about how that is best done.
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