by Martin Odoni

I have no wish to make light of the childish tantrum thrown by the Labour Right today. The first batch of what will doubtless be a considerable number of Labour MPs resigned the whip today. I suspect more may follow this very week, to keep the story at the top of the headlines. The danger of splitting the Labour vote by going their own way is potentially as big a gift to the Conservatives as the breakaway of the Social Democratic Party was in the 1980s. Considering the media history of giving MPs who leave the Labour Party – at least via its right wing – enormous positive publicity for months afterwards, that danger is quite genuine.


Sort of like Blake’s 7, only all seven of them are Vila.

Nonetheless, most of the sting has been taken out of the day by a couple of absolutely hilarious blunders the breakaway faction have made, making the day less resemble the launch of the SDP and more resemble the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Angela Smith, the central source of hilarity, managed to contradict herself completely during the faction’s press conference, re-stating her wish for a ‘People’s Vote’ over Brexit, while effectively insisting that she would not support a Labour move for another General Election – or offer up her seat for a by-Election – on the grounds that people are bored of voting. Doh!

Somehow, the Blairite wing of the party just cannot stop being the most laughable hypocrites. They always try to appear ‘charismatic’ and ‘sincere’ by being regimented and strictly ‘on-message’ at all times, even when the message is inherently absurd. Automatic soundbites abound – today’s being the constant repetition of the term “broken politics” – making them sound machine-like and cold, rather than charismatic. They have learned nothing from the 2015 Leadership contest.

But of course it got very much worse after the press conference was over. An endorsement from Katie Hopkins of all people immediately caused blushes for the faction, but they could always say, “We can’t control that”. But then, in an interview with the BBC, Smith managed to discredit the single biggest pretext the faction had for breaking away from Labour in the first place. That pretext was the wildly-exaggerated ‘anti-Semitism-in-the-Labour-Party’ controversy. “We can no longer, in good conscience, remain in a party so mired in racism!” was the message.

Angela Smith Guess Who?

Just imagine what she’d be saying if she had a couple of drinks in her…

So Smith’s use of the term, “funny tinge” or “funny tint” (still not sure which) to describe the skin of people-of-colour was perhaps the greatest media backfire in left-leaning politics since Gordon Brown’s ‘bigoted woman‘ remark was caught on microphone nine years ago.

Chuka reacts to Angela Smith

When your non-party leader is Chuka Umunna, it’s not a wise move to talk about other races having skin of a ‘funny tinge’ (or ‘tint’).

Now, this is more funny than insidious. There may be an element of a Freudian slip, but I think it likelier that Smith was struggling to find the correct synonym and blurted out something she did not mean. I do not believe Smith is a closet racist.

But really. This was barely three hours after the faction had officially announced their departure from the Labour Party, and already one of them was bringing shame and embarrassment on the entire manoeuvre, by implying an attitude it was supposedly hoping to escape.

We can be sure, if even the most obscure Labour Party member had made a similarly clumsy remark, especially about a Jew or even a Zionist, it would be all over the news bulletins for the rest of the week. It would be cynically-presented, including by the ‘Snakes’ 7′ faction themselves, as conclusive evidence of ‘rampant Labour anti-Semitism’.

As you can see above, I am not so cynical, and I am happy to give Smith the benefit-of-the-doubt, at least on racial grounds – as I say, I think she was speaking clumsily, and is not a racist. (Although if we pity Smith as a fool rather than lambaste her as a bigot, well, how much benefit of the doubt have the Labour Right given Jeremy Corbyn down the years when he has been accused of incompetence?) But no person need be a racist to be disgusting. Just being cynical, opportunistic, willing to lie for advantage, and unhesitating about ruining the reputations of decent people, are enough in combination to make a person disgusting. And the entire breakaway faction have shown these hypocricies in profound quantities.

Berger Angela said what

The woman who cries ‘racism!’ on the flimsiest of grounds suddenly will not call it when the accused is a fellow party-rebel.

If Luciana Berger, for instance, had any honour, she would immediately disown Smith. (And note how Berger once again is only selectively ‘too pregnant’ for political conflict.)  Her grounds for besmirching the reputations of tens of thousands of Labour members as ‘racists’ are every bit as flimsy as calling Smith a racist because of ‘Tinge-gate’. But Berger still besmirched those many, many Labour members, and so should feel compelled to condemn Smith in the same way, following the simple principle of all people being subject to the same rules. But Berger does not, because she is a disgusting cynic. Nor do Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Mike Gapes or Anne Coffey. Because they are all disgusting cynics.

Even the independent faction’s official status as a non-party is probably the result of disgusting cynicism; it allows them to side-step laws capping funding of political parties.

These independents are not a ‘moderate’ alternative to the Labour Party.  They are greedy children who are taking their ball home because they cannot tolerate being in the Labour Party when it is no longer answering to them. They know that splitting left-wing support would stop Labour getting into Government, and give them a self-fulfilling opportunity to say, “Told-you-so.”

Voting for greed is voting for Tories. These MPs have demonstrated once and for all that the term pinned to them of Queasy-conscience Tories is entirely correct.