Is the Labour Party slowly but remorselessly losing faith in its leader Jeremy Corbyn?
There never was a full-on love affair between leader and party.
But even moderates eventually realised they would have to learn to live with this hard-left socialist.
Corbyn’s election as leader to replace Ed Miliband surprised everyone, Conservative and Labour MPs alike, as well as the straggling hangers-on, like the depleted Liberal Democrats. The Tories were delighted because they assumed – quite wrongly – that Corbyn would be a pushover and would lead Labour to where it does not wish to go. Well, he is certainly leading them – shall we say – astray, but he is the reverse of a pushover. He has easily survived two attempts to boot him out. So although it is easy to talk about ousting him, it is far harder to achieve that. He has shown no sign of budging – and why should he?
His shadow Cabinet changes – some of its members being forced out and others quitting in despair – have been a shambles. Corbyn’s latest sacking, that of Owen Smith as shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, has been denounced by Lord Hain, a former Ulster Secretary, as “Stalinist”.
Smith’s “crime” was to hold an off-message view about Brexit.
Corbyn has had a rocky ride as Labour’s leader so far, but suddenly the potholes are getting bigger and bumpier and distinctly more perilous. His alleged anti-Semitism – hotly denied – has led to something louder than mere mutterings of discontent among Labour moderates. And his strange reaction to the news of the expulsion of scores of Russian diplomats, from embassies around the world, left some Labour MPs noisily gulping with disbelief during his exchanges with the Prime Minister in the Commons.
It will take more than the hard-line Momentum Group campaigners to restore faith and trust in their leader.
Perhaps, therefore, the only course open to his critics, who have had more than enough of him, is to resign the party whip and form their own, more traditional-style breakaway Labour Party. And so to misquote an old cliche: “If you can’t beat ‘em, leave ‘em.”