RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Chuka Umunna’s in love… with himself. But if he and his Labour rebels bring dangerous Corbyn down, they will have done us all a favour
Tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be Barack Obama. The Labour breakaway press conference looked like an episode of the TV show Stars In Their Eyes.
Chuka Umunna emerged from the dry ice to deliver his impression of the UK’s first African-American Prime Minister.
OK, so he’s of Nigerian-Irish descent, but you get the gist. Chucky’s never disguised his ambition to be the ‘British Obama’. Problem is, his chosen vehicle, the Labour Party, has been reluctant to share his vaulting ambition.
Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, was one of seven MPs to split from the Labour party yesterday over antisemitism and a culture of bullying within the party
He threw his ring into the hat when Ed Miliband crashed and burned, but withdrew hastily from the leadership contest after it became apparent he couldn’t command the support of enough MPs to make it through the preliminary rounds.
When you fail even to muster as many nominations as O.J. Corbyn, it’s time to get your coat.
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Now the schism on the Left has given him another stab at greatness. While Luciana Berger rightly received the sympathy vote yesterday, it was Umunna who seized the limelight.
Chuka Umunna has ambitions to be the British Barack Obama, writes Richard Littlejohn
To paraphrase Rickie Lee Jones, Chucky’s in love — with himself. He clearly sees his future as the leader of an unstoppable new political party.
I’m only surprised he didn’t purloin Obama’s catchphrase: ‘Yes We Can!’ (Stop Brexit).
Consumed with a chronic case of narcissism, he completely — or, more likely, deliberately — missed the point when he complained that British politics was broken.
And whose fault’s that then?
The collapse in public trust is almost entirely down to the fact that hardline federasts like Umunna have moved heaven and earth to overthrow a democratic vote by 17.4 million people to leave the EU.
Jeremy Corbyn said he was ‘disappointed’ that these MPs have resigned the Labour whip instead of fighting for the policies ‘that inspired millions’, in reaction to the split
The Labour party split has taken pressure off Theresa May as she deals with infighting within Conservative party ranks
Yet Chucky still has the nerve to pose as a ‘moderate’ and promises to treat people ‘as adults’. How stupid does he think we are?
As for the rest of the Stars In Their Eyes line-up yesterday, how many did you recognise? Come on, be honest.
The woman in the floral frock looked like an extra from Calendar Girls. And the old, chubby geezer is a dead ringer for the actor who played John Thaw’s boss, Detective Chief Superintendent Strange, in Inspector Morse. Name of Gapes, apparently. The MP, that is, not the actor, James Grout, who died in 2012.
Chris Leslie? Pass. Who he? The woman in the orange Tango-coloured trouser suit? Likewise. Maybe she was auditioning for the Lib Dems. The other one? Sorry, can’t help.
Apart from publicity-hungry Chucky, only Luciana Berger was familiar. That’s because she is at the centre of the anti-Semitism scandal engulfing Labour.
Pregnant Luciana Berger has faced anti-Jewish abuse from other members of the Labour party. At the Liverpool Labour Party Conference she needed two police officers for her security
Richard Littlejohn writes that most of the Labour MPs that split from the party are relatively unknown outside their constituencies
She has been on the receiving end of the most appalling abuse from Corbynistas and, you may recall, she was forced to have police protection when she attended last year’s Labour Party conference.
Recently, she faced no-confidence motions from her own Liverpool Wavertree constituency party, sections of which despise her support for Israel.
Frankly, I’m surprised that Ms Berger stuck it as long as she did. Liverpool Labour seems to be reverting to the bad old days of the Eighties, when it was a stronghold of the extremist Trotskyite sect Militant Tendency.
On reflection, she would have been justified in walking away when Frank Field, veteran MP for the nearby Merseyside constituency of Birkenhead, resigned the party whip last year, in protest at rampant anti-Semitism under Corbyn.
Field, although something of a maverick, is a far more substantial figure than any of those who tore up their membership cards yesterday. I can, however, understand why Luciana Berger agonised over quitting the party.She’s the great-niece of the pioneering Labour MP and trades unionist Manny Shinwell, who was a member of the Attlee government and was still active in the House of Lords until his death, aged 101.
Curiously, Shinwell resigned the Labour whip in 1982, in protest against hard-Left infiltration, when Militant was in the ascendency. So the spirit of rebellion obviously runs in the family.
Back in the Eighties, Len McCluskey was a young bag-carrier for Militant. Today he runs Unite, Britain’s biggest union, and bankrolls Momentum, Militant’s modern-day successor. Basically, Red Len owns the Labour Party.
So to no one’s great surprise, he has welcomed the resignation of the Stars In Their Eyes Seven and wished them good riddance. Their departure helps tighten the Corbynistas’ grip on the party.
Len McCluskey said the seven MPs that have split from the Labour party should hold byelections in their constituencies
Whether it will encourage others to follow suit remains to be seen. Word from within the Westminster Bubble is that a couple of renegade Tories, such as Here We Go Soubry Loo, might decide to join a new anti-Brexit party in the Commons.
But tribalism runs deep in Labour, whoever is in charge. And there’s little or no chance of any fightback coming from within the unions, as it did in the Eighties. They have been hollowed out through falling membership and a series of mergers.
I like to think I speak with some authority, having played a small walk-on part in Labour’s rehabilitation back then, by exposing Communist and Trotskyite entryism and widespread Left-wing ballot rigging in the trades unions.
So will more Labour MPs desert, or will they be content to sit tight and hope the implosion of the Conservatives will get them re-elected? There’s no question that those who decide to stay under Corbyn will be tacitly endorsing the extremism and anti-Semitism which now riddles the party.
But never underestimate the abject cowardice and cynicism of careerist politicians.
Chuka Umunna went for the Labour leadership after Ed Miliband resigned, but withdrew after he failed to get enough support from fellow MPs
If most Labour MPs had displayed the same kind of resilience standing up against Momentum as they have in resisting the popular vote for Brexit, Corbyn would be long gone by now.
Nor can they claim that they’ve only just discovered the rampant streak of anti-Semitism running through Labour like lettering in a stick of rock.
I made a TV documentary exposing it 12 years ago. With a few honourable exceptions, such as the indomitable member for Bassetlaw, John Mann, most Labour MPs I approached for comment didn’t want to know.
The good news is that yesterday’s resignations have at last laid bare the shocking state of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition.
To give you some idea of just how completely bonkers Labour is these days, there is even talk of Momentum activists deselecting former acting leader Margaret Beckett, the MP for Derby South.
This would be the same Margaret Beckett who was one of only two members of the party’s National Executive who voted against expelling Militant Tendency supporters in the Eighties.
And the same Margaret Beckett who signed Corbyn’s nomination papers, but now says she was a ‘moron’ to have done so. That candid admission was obviously enough to get her marked down as a class traitor.
The cabal currently running Labour would probably consider Militant’s Degsy Hatton, who bankrupted Liverpool, too Right-wing.
Other Labour MPs, including Margaret Beckett, may face deselection in their constituencies
No matter how much we may despair of Mother Theresa’s inept, tone-deaf Conservative government, there is no question that Labour under Corbyn, McDonnell, McCluskey and Momentum poses a clear and present to our national prosperity and security.
I may have made fun of those who quit yesterday — someone’s got to do it — but if their departure brings about the collapse of the Corbynista regime, they will have done us all a favour.
If the Tories can stop tearing themselves apart over Brexit, they now have a heaven-sent — and, frankly, undeserved — opportunity to capitalise on the carnage in the Labour Party.
Who knows whether yesterday’s resignations will herald a historic realignment of British politics or turn out to be a five-minute wonder? If I were a betting man, which I’m not, I’d plump for the latter.
History suggests that newfangled orange-tinted centre parties have a limited shelf-life and eventually go the way of the SDP and what’s left of the Lib Dems.
But whatever happens next, we have seen the future. And it isn’t Jeremy Corbyn. Nor, for that matter, Chuka Umunna.
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