The least scary threat in the history of democracy, a history that is two millennia old, is the threat that some Labour MPs and the Lib Dems will form a new centrist party. This flaccid threat, never openly stated, elicits no fear in its intended targets because such a party would dissipate within seconds of its launch. It would have no political position and nothing to offer.
Even the most blinkered and most bubble-encased Progress and Lib Dem MPs know a new centrist party is a ticket to oblivion. Equally, they know that the supposed recipients of the threat to form such a party – the Labour left – are not at all perturbed about the possibility of one being created. Indeed, there is encouragement from labour’s left for the creation of a centrist party in order to hurry along the departure of some annoying MPs.
If the formation of a new centrist party is a certain failure, what options do the self-penned “politically homeless” MPs and activists have in their centrist dilemma?
They have three options.
Option 1: Continue the disruption
They could stay where they are, keep the MP’s salary, keep their access to media and continue to disrupt, both in parliament and particularly within the Labour party. They could continue their relentless, spurious attacks on Corbyn and his colleagues to try to ensure that neither he or any of his like-minded colleagues ever becomes prime minister. That is their top priority. Anything else is secondary and a long way behind. If Brexit leads to an absolute disaster, as seems likely, then at least the centrists would be keeping Corbyn away from power; if Johnson, Rees-Mogg or Gove replaces May and the Tories lurch even further to a Trump-like racist freedom-crushing extreme-right then at least Corbyn would not be in power. Keeping a tendency toward socialism away from government is the centrists’ focus. Nothing will divert them from that aim and they prefer any other type of government.
Option 2: Steal parliamentary seats
John Woodcock, a good friend of and employee of the arms industry, is currently stealing a parliamentary seat. He “resigned” from Labour but has chosen not to call a by-election. His decision to refuse to contest a by-election is understandable cowardice because, clearly, he would lose. His constituents elected a Labour MP. Right now, they do not have a Labour MP. Woodcock’s disruptive colleagues might choose to follow his example and resign from Labour but stay in parliament unelected. Their departure from Labour would be welcome. Their theft of parliamentary seats would be an unsurprising demonstration of their opposition to democracy.
Option 3: Do one
They could just sod off. Resign from Labour and step down as MPs. Whether or not they stood in any ensuing by-elections would be irrelevant because they wouldn’t win. Away from parliament they could console themselves by writing incoherent, inconsistent fact-averse columns for think-tanks and newspapers or set up secretly-funded talking shops and lobby groups. They could do that, but that decision would be a relatively honest decision with integrity, and honesty and integrity are not qualities associated with the Progress mob.
Which option will they choose?