Friday, 3 June 2016

Guardian letter on realignment of British politics

The "realignment of British politics", with the Tories "dividing three ways", as Tim Montgomerie forecasts, and as Owen Jones reports, ignores the lessons from history (Why Labour may have to divide before they conquer, 02/06/16). The in-fighting in the Tory ranks, with its increasingly unsavoury attacks on the leadership, is very reminiscent of 1846, and the split over the repeal of the Corn Laws. The then-leader, Robert Peel, was savaged by a group led by the unprincipled and exceedingly ambitious, Benjamin Disraeli, who aspired to reach the top of the "greasy pole" by whatever means possible. The consequent split in the party led in the long term to an alliance of Peelites with some Whigs to form a less conservative Tory party, calling themselves Liberals.
   The likely result today is that the Disraeli-equivalent, Johnson, will go on to lead the right wing of the party, whilst the centre group could well see the electoral benefits of joining with right of the Labour party. Clearly the likes of Mandelson, Tristram Hunt and Kendall have as much in common with Cameron as they do with Corbyn. Jones`s hopes for proportional representation are slim, requiring as it would, Tories` support, so, whilst his prediction of Labour splitting into "a centre-left and a left party" is probable, the end result could well be a new middle ground party.

  Labour MPs would be better advised to unite around Corbyn; it was twenty eight years before Disraeli could manage a majority government! 

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