I awake to find the desperately shocking news that another prominent Labour person has quit the party because he has nothing in common with Jeremy Corbyn. Jesus. Another split in the party. The public hates divided political parties. What’s the story here, then?
According to the Times (prop. Rupert Murdoch) Lord Grabiner said Jeremy Corbyn’s proposals and views “are terribly damaging and there is no effective opposition” to the Conservatives. Well, not all Corbyn’s proposals and views, I would add, because whilst I share the view that Corbyn is taking Labour to political hell in a handcart, a lot of what the old boy says is not a million miles away from mainstream views in Britain, certainly when it comes to hospitals and schools. But our unelected peer believes that all Corbyn’s views “are terribly damaging” which begs the question: what on earth was he doing in the Labour Party in the first place?
I do not want to adopt the Corbynista line that if you don’t agree with me, bugger off to the Lib Dems and such like, but Grabiner doesn’t strike me as a person of the left at all and I am a person of the centre left. As Loyd Grossman used to say, “let’s look at the evidence.”
Grabiner works for News International (prop. Rupert Murdoch) and serial tax dodger “Sir” Philip Green. He also “works” for Goldman Sachs as a non executive director and is a director of Wentworth Golf Club which charges £125,000 for new members. And he has not spoken on a single occasion in the House of Lords this year, not once. You might think the last part is the most concerning of all, given the amount of legislation that has gone through parliament this year, much of which has been aimed at the working poor and the disabled. A Labour peer, you would have thought, might have some concerns about the direction of the country and – hey presto! – he has. He likes the way it’s going so much that he is leaving the Labour Party.
He’s the second Labour peer to quit within a week; the other, Lord Warner, is such a strong socialist that he wants to start charging people to use the NHS. Are they any real loss to the Labour Party? In my opinion, no. But we need to be careful that we do not embark on that slippery slope that leads to witch hunts against those who are perceived to not hold the “correct” point of view. The election of Jeremy Corbyn as party leader does bring back fears from those of us who remember the 1980s when Corbyn’s old mucker Tony Benn led the far left campaign to oust those who did not conform to their narrow view of the world. Benn always spoke about the “broad church” the Labour Party was, but as ever his words did not match his actions and the party slewed to the far left of opposition and thus impotence.
In fact, Corbyn has appeared as Mr Reasonable so far, leaving his apparatchiks, intentionally or not, to do the dirty work, whilst publicly saying that there would be no deselections of centre left MPs as the party lurched to the far left. I do not see the departures of Grabiner or Warner as being anything to do with Corbyn’s leadership and rather suspect they probably regarded Tony Blair as a bit of a Commie and it certainly doesn’t bother me that they have moved on to do less important but probably more financially lucrative work.
Any friend of Rupert Murdoch – including Tony Blair – is no friend of mine so goodbye and good riddance to Grabiner in particular but let’s not confuse this with what many of fear may happen next by those who confuse the politics of the Labour selectorate with the general electorate, whose views could not be further apart.