Sunday, January 16
All Change Please!
The Sunday Telegraph reports this morning that another MP has defected: this time it's Robert Jackson, Tory MP for Wantage , to Labour. This follows the defection in December ofantiwar Labour MP Paul Marsden to the LibDems.
I remember Marsden well from numerous antiwar marches, rallies, and meetings. He struck me as a principled if soft socialist who was suffering greatly from his party's actions over the war, and who was deeply conflicted about his party membership.
"On October 13, the backbench Labour MP spoke out against the war at a march and rally organised by CND in London that attracted up to 50,000 protestors. Prior to this on October 8, in the third debate on the “international coalition against terrorism”, Marsden had raised a point of order calling for a Commons’ vote on the conduct of the war. Marsden also asked, “When will British citizens be given a written constitution so that Parliament, not a prime minister, authorises a declaration of war?” Both questions were brushed aside".
I remember that: I was there. I felt rather sorry for him while as the same time despising him for staying with the party when he so obviously had deep disagreements with policy. I am glad he has finally had the courage of his convictions.
I was once a very active Labour Party member, and when I left to join the SWP after the defeat of Clause IV it was as though 75% of my life and social circle had just evaporated. I imagine what Paul Marsden must be feeling is much much worse: he has lost all his support systems, his former friends and colleagues have been and are briefing against him, (at one stage, he was being compared by Labour Chief Whip, Hilary Armstrong, to the appeasers of the Nazis: this is the woman who said 'war is not a matter of conscience', so so much for anything she thinks or says) and he may not keep his seat. I admire his decision; it wasn't easy but he did the right thing. I don't agree with his choice of new party ideologically, but if he wants to stay in big politics he has to join one of the big 3, and he has.
Jackson is on the BBC 1pm news now saying that he feels what Labour has to offer the country is much better than anything the Conservatives could. He is quoted in the Telegraph today as saying that he had decided to quit because the Tories had "dangerous" views on Europe, "incoherent" policies on public services, and had "wobbled" on Iraq. Most damaging for Mr Howard, he said that the party "deserved better leadership". No change there then.
It says all you need to know about the current state of New Labour that it is now the natural home of the Tory. I for one still haven't forgotten the parachuting in of Shaun Woodward, the millionaire former Tory MP who defected to New Labour, against the local candidate, who was supported by the constituency party and many St. Helens residents..
I wonder which safe seat Jackson will get? One thing is for sure, Marsden is moving because of ideological conflict, but from everything I've read and heard Jackson's move is more about his political career or lack of it should he stay with the Conservatives. In this he follows Woodward's example, while proving Marsden's point that the Labour Party is now beyond ideological redemption.
11/28/2004 - 12/05/2004