Eight former Labour MPs resigned from the party this week to join Independent Group but they remain MPs. Current law allows them to avoid automatic by-elections and to steal parliamentary seats from tens of thousands of people who voted for Labour in their respective constituencies.
Working for the Tories
One of the Labour deserters Gavin Shuker declared that the intent of Independent Group is to support the Tory government in any no confidence vote in parliament in exchange for a second referendum on Brexit.
In an interview with Huffington Post Shuker reported what he had said in a meeting with Tory MP David Lidington before the Independent Group MPs had left Labour.
“If you [David Lidington] do that [call a second referendum] I’m willing to extend confidence and supply to your government so it doesn’t fall over through the period of the referendum.”
Shuker told Huffington Post that he is opposed to removing the Tories from government.
“We need a general election like a hole in the head right now, we’re 900 hours to Brexit and we’re going to crash out without a deal unless something replaces that. In those circumstances I think the national interest would be served by seeing a period of stability to get that referendum done.”
That is, former Labour MPs in Independent Group will seek to maintain a Tory government directly against the wishes of the people who voted for them in 2017.
The people who voted Labour in the Independent Group MPs’ constituencies did so because they wanted a Labour government not a Tory government. The MPs have taken votes for Labour (over one hundred thousand in total) and handed them to the Tories. These Labour voters have had their access to democracy stolen from them.
The right to vote is a basic requirement of a democracy. The current British system is only partially democratic but if suffrage is abused then Britain has no democracy at all.
By remaining in parliament without by-elections and switching sides, the former Labour MPs are defecating gleefully in the faces of tens of thousands of people who put their trust in the democratic system. Rightly, a relentless barrage of complaints is being thrown at the democracy thieves but persuasion is unlikely to shift them because they are entirely bereft of integrity. The Tories, and their financial backers and beneficiaries, are delighted.
Registration of Independent Group
Independent Group is not registered as a political party with the Electoral Commission. It has no registration at all with any legally recognised body. It is merely a description of the MPs who are its members.
A private business called Gemini A Limited, with an address above a Weatherspoons’ pub in Altrincham, has been concocted to provide funding for Independent Group.
This arrangement allows Independent Group to avoid scrutiny by the Electoral Commission and, thus, avoid registration of and publication of its financial donations.
As soon as deserting Labour MPs resigned, their right to access data held by the party ended. In particular, the right of access to members’ contact details and the right of access to Labour party e-mail accounts ended. But, Joan Ryan, who joined Independent Group the day after the first seven departures from Labour, used a Labour e-mail account to contact Labour members after she had resigned: Joan Ryan breach of data law.
Independent Group is operating outside of democracy. It dodged party registration leading to avoidance of scrutiny by the Electoral Commission and to the ability to hide financial donations; its members are refusing to call by-elections and are stealing parliamentary seats (and MPs’ salaries and expenses); its members intend to vote against any vote of no confidence in the Tory government which is exactly the opposite of what the voters who elected them (as Labour MPs) wanted.
Historically, if and when democracy was removed the response was outside of democracy as well. Given the behaviour of the members of the Independent Group, many people will consider how much justification exists to respond in a like-minded way to how they have been robbed.