What are they waiting for? The hard core of anti-Corbynites who have so far failed to dislodge him through fair means and foul are we are told poised to leave the Labour Party and start their own SDP – or whatever it may be called. I can only imagine that they are waiting for the Word. The Word that is, of Tony Blair. But will they get it? Whilst Blair is firmly in the ‘People’s Vote’ camp, he has so far resisted the temptation to renege on the Labour Party. Would he really want to solidify his reputation as some sort of modern day Ramsay MacDonald? Or is he already so far beyond the pale that he wouldn’t care about that? There is still a significant number of party members who, whilst conceding that Iraq was a bad business, nevertheless respect Blair for some of his reforms and his election victories. But I doubt their lingering admiration for him would be enough to entice them to leave the party too, if he became the de facto (if not official) leader of the new centrist party. It’s heart and head stuff, and the heart is heavily tribal.
And what would happen if the renegades took off afresh and Blair remained in the Labour Party? It doesn’t take much imagination to see that the baby would be stillborn without his support, particularly so given the anti-Corbynites’ belief that old Jez hasn’t really got that ‘electoral coalition’ building magic, which they believe Blair certainly had. There is also the problem that some of the potential renegades don’t really fit that camp at all. I can’t see the likes of John Mann leaving the party. His main platform would be whipped away in seconds. His only raison d’etre seems to be as a little piece of grit in the machine, not out of it.
There is a slim chance that some, a tiny handful of renegades feel so strongly about our membership of the E.U. that they would bet their political careers on it, and support May’s deal if that really is the only thing preventing a no deal Brexit. I think this has a real chance of happening, given Corbyn’s reluctance to inflict punishment on those breaking the whip. Getting elected party leader having made breaking the whip worthy of a lifetime achievement award suggests that whatever they do on Brexit, Labour MPs have nothing to fear from Corbyn. In which case, putting aside their personal dislike of him, they have even less reason to bleat on about forming their own little party. So, they would be better off waiting for the next general election which they think Labour will lose, and then try to get one of their own elected leader. Plenty of reasons then why there won’t be a breakaway group (famous last words?).