Comment: Labour Party turning into closed shop under Jeremy Corbyn
Express & Star Political Editor Peter Madeley on today's decision by Ian Austin to quit Labour
It comes to something when hard working, talented, committed MPs feel they no longer have a home in the Labour Party.
In a week that has now seen nine of them depart, Ian Austin’s decision to quit the party he joined 35 years ago will come as no surprise to most.
His dislike of Jeremy Corbyn is hardly a secret.
He has attacked the Labour leadership on numerous occasions, and notably defied the party whip to become one of a select few Labour MPs to back Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
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However, in some respects his resignation is the clearest example yet of the desperation that so many Labour MPs feel towards their party.
By turning his back on Labour, a party he first posted leaflets for as an 18-year-old, the Dudley North MP has effectively become his own small island in the House of Commons.
Unlike the other MPs who have quit their parties this week, there is no natural home for him in the Independent Group that has aligned itself squarely against Brexit and for a second referendum.
In his eyes, the Labour leadership’s acceptance of extreme views – and its implicit dislike of anyone who stands up to them – has forced his hand.
It is to Mr Austin’s great credit that rather than bury his head in the sand and carry on regardless, he has taken the difficult route by going it alone. Labour’s current predicament is unprecedented.
Since it was founded 119 years ago, the party has dedicated itself to fighting racism in all its forms.
Now its MPs are fleeing the nest, stating that under the leadership of Mr Corbyn and his acolytes the Labour Party has become institutionally racist.
Rather than reach out and listen to these concerns, Mr Corbyn and his chief henchman John McDonnell can barely hide their urgency to get rid of them. Make no mistake, while nine MPs have quit Labour this week, there are 10 times that amount who are wholly dissatisfied, embarrassed and even ashamed at the current state of the party. For those supporters on Labour’s extreme left this is the next stage of the big takeover, the exorcism of the moderates that will lead to Mr Corbyn’s glorious surge to Number 10.
The reality is that a passionate membership in thrall to Mr Corbyn will not come close to ushering in a Labour government.
This is remarkable when you consider the chaotic state of the Conservatives under Mrs May’s stuttering administration.
Labour’s current malaise paints a very dark picture of where we are heading – a my-way-or-the-highway politics of the partisan; a tribal clique with no room for debate or differing views.
Far from being a broad church, the Labour Party of the future is shaping up to be a closed shop.