Political

Former Labour MP defects to the Liberal Democrats

Former left-wing Labour MP Bob Marshall-Andrews has defected to the Liberal Democrats.

Bob Marshall-Andrews labelled Labour a “political basketcase” and went on to say:

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 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 (perhaps influenced by his friendship with Tim Razzall and former Lib Dem News editor Deirdre Razzall?) 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.

5 responses to “Former Labour MP defects to the Liberal Democrats”

  1. Beware of Greek Horses opening the gates of Troy. Correct to be wary of him. He has to prove himself to the party AND the voter (even if it is only stuffing leaflets into envelopes!)

  2. Bob Marshall-Andrews was a hardworking and markedly independent MP committed to civil liberties and always suspicious of Blairism. He strikes me as a natural and very welcome convert. That he was well on the left of the Labour Party is important as some people have been talking as if only centrist Labour MPs might make common cause with us. Bob is not a centrist. Neither am I!

  3. Bob Marshall-Andrews is not well-described as “hard left” and is not comparable to Brian Sedgemore. He was virulently anti-Blair but that was in large part because of (i) civil liberties issues (being a barrister) and (ii) foreign policy – the two areas in which the Lib Dems themselves had most beef with Blair. He was disliked by Labour MPs for being too friendly to *Conservative* who were also civil libertarians. And he nominated Brown, not McDonnell, in 2007. He is just a generally independent-minded man. Tactically allied with the hard-left Labour MPs on some issues, but not part of their herd. A man of great integrity, in my opinion.

    • He was a member of the Socialist Campaign Group. That’s rather more than tactically allying on a few issues.

  4. I think his article in the New Statesman in general bears out my view that I expressed above.
    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/june2017/2017/04/former-mp-bob-marshall-andrews-why-i-m-leaving-labour-and-joining-lib-dems

    On the “alliance” with Corbyn types specificially:
    “Jeremy Corbyn was a political ally of mine on a number of serious issues. We made common cause on Tony Blair’s assaults on civil liberty and the Iraq War, and we went to Gaza together.”

    But see his also criticisms of old Labour and of the false dichotomy between old and new Labour.

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