Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

To Split Would Be to Let the Tories Win

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

To Split Would Be to Let the Tories Win

Article excerpt

There is no logic in the idea of splitting and there's no case for the idea. Those who are said to want it--if they're members of parliament, are they going to resign their seats and fight by-elections, like Dick Taverne did [Taverne stepped down as a Labour MP to run as an independent in Lincoln in 1973] or the Tory-Ukip defectors did? Are they going to form a party like the SDP did, with catastrophic results for everybody, not least the division of the anti-Thatcher vote, which meant that she could secure 100 per cent of the power with 43 per cent of the electorate?

Anybody advocating a split in the Labour Party has got to face the reality that they would be letting the Tories rule the 21st century just like they mainly ruled the 20th century. There can't be any rational social democrat or democratic socialist who would want that, but it is a historic inevitability if they pursue it. I take the view that a lot of people, left, right and centre, in parliament and in the unions take: that Jeremy Corbyn won, he's got to have some space, and he must be judged on performance in terms of Labour's advance or movement in the other direction. That's the political reality that people must really grasp and work on: the idea of trying to take disruptive action in the short term will simply be fruitless. That's the reality.

It's difficult to see that [Jeremy Corbyn is electable]. Many of the people who voted for Jeremy are outstanding party members who said that they were frustrated--indeed, infuriated--by the failure of Labour to connect with the electorate. …

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