Saturday 11 May 2019

The Allure of Change UK

British politics needs comedic relief, and Change UK are delivering it in spades. From their foundation, CHUKa's short history has been a caper of unforced faults and unintentional laughs. We've had the racism. We've had the racism again. We've got transphobes and Tommy Robinson apologists among its European candidates. We saw the Electoral Commission reject their ballot box logo, which they then muddied by giving themselves two names, neither of which say anything. And more hilarity was served up over a "rebrand" of their Twitter account which saw their accidentally abandoned handle immediately annexed by Brexit Ultras. This wouldn't matter if it didn't have a blue tick and was at the top of Google rankings for 'The Independent Group'. And Thursday night, CHUKa blamed Labour for their failure to stand a unity remain candidate in conjunction with the Greens and LibDems in the upcoming Peterborough by-election. Who'd have Adam and Eve'd it, Farage's outfit looks slick at professional compared to these amateurs.

As Solomon Hughes notes, these missteps can be put down to CHUKa's status as a memberless party (ordinary punters still can't join, only supporter status is available). But I want to ask an entirely different question tangentially related to their incompetence. While the public are largely indifferent to the doings of Chuka, "Iron" Mike Gapes, and pals, why do an ungodly number of leftists find them fascinating? Is it because they're the butt of the best memes, or something else? I think we can put this down to three reasons.

1. Political experimentation. Most people active in politics now weren't around when the SDP split with Labour nor, for that matter, when Militant struck out on its own in the early 90s, and Arthur Scargill left the party to form his mini-Stalinoid personality cult. What happens then when someone splits from Labour to form their own party is destined to be a matter of interest, especially considering how previous departures have never amounted to anything. Is there a chance CHUKa could defy historical precedent and help recast British politics? After all, we have been told ad nauseam that elections are won from the hallowed centre ground and the centre is where most of the people are - is CHUKa about to prove whether this is the case?

2. The end of centrism. Yes, liberalism and centrism in the UK is in sharp decline. Over-represented in the media and in the Parliamentary Labour Party, as a movement of elites, they're marginalised in the Conservative Party, they spectacularly lost the Labour Party, and the Liberal Democrats remain in the doldrums, despite what appear to be spectacular local election gains. What happens when a declining movement, in a fit of pique, tries something new? Might they hit upon something and jump start their brand of politics by forcing centrism to confront matters they usually do not talk about, like crap wages and crap jobs, the environmental crisis, the breakdown of property ownership, and so on. Or perhaps the fun lies in watching them scampering to avoid discussing these important issues.

3. Schadenfreude. It's not just that CHUKa is a collective of some of the most useless politicians to have sat for Labour in recent times, nor that their politics are woefully out of touch and don't fit the demands of the moment. No, what really grates is their entitlement and arrogance. You have Chris Leslie, who was gifted a very nice career by the Labour Party at the tender age of 24. Gapes hasn't held a job outside of the party since the 1970s. Chuka worked for five minutes as a solicitor before getting on the Compass bus and then going full Blairite once comfortably ensconced. Luciana Berger got the Wavertree seat after a distinctly irregular selection process, Ann Coffey couldn't be bothered to turn up to her CLP meetings for four years, Angela Smith used her job to represent the interests of water companies as opposed to constituents, and Joan Ryan cheerleading land theft and murder in Palestine. On and on it goes. These place seekers and non-entities, corporate satraps and warmongers, they epitomise all that is and continues to be objectionable about the Labour Party. The main reason loads of lefties follow them, take pleasure in their stupid mistakes, and cheer loudly come election night when each CHUKa MP loses their seat is because we hunger for a comeuppance that's been a long time in the making. Not just for them, as appalling as these people are, but for the whole rotten edifice of so-called centrist politics. We want to see their noses rubbed in their irrelevance, and we will glory in it.


Blissex said...

«CHUKa's status as a memberless party (ordinary punters still can't join, only supporter status is available).»

I think that is the same as the Conservative and Unionist Party, which IIRC is strictly only a parliamentary party. The rest are members only of one of the local associations of supporters of that party, not the party itself.

Karl Greenall said...

Thank you for articulating so precisely the hopes and feelings of all the Labour supporters you refer to. China's crew are a scandalous affront to decency and civilised values.

Daniel said...

One word: Miwk!

Robert said...

Let's hope all these tossers lose their seats at the next election. That will be one of my all time Golden Moments

whisperit said...

These rightist Labour splinters come and go, especially at moments of crisis. Great fodder for Westminster village wonks, keen to demonstrate their hours spent writing essays in uni about the impact on the Whigs of the repeal of the Corn Laws weren't entirely wasted.

Meanwhile, IRL, we have a right-nationalist demagogue sucking up all the oxygen in the room - a space the erstwhile supporters of Jeremy Corbyn were keen to see him fill. But he, it turns out, thinks the way to mobilise radical youth is have confidential talks with a zombie prime minister.FFS.