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Seventh heaven for a new politics? Learn the lessons of a gang of four

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19.02.2019

The Magnificent Seven — or seven political dwarves, destined for the footnotes of political history? Labour’s breakaway party started out with a press conference that felt like an anti-climax, if only because we had been waiting so long for the moment to arrive.

The proximate reason for the Independent Group making its move now is the appalling handling by Camp Corbyn of a campaign against Luciana Berger in her Liverpool constituency with distinctive anti-Semitic undertones.

A widespread feeling that opponents of official Corbynism are fair game to be bullied, harried and deselected out of office is flanked by an unserious treatment of Brexit, on which official Labour’s view is by turns instrumental (a raw means of toppling the Government) or a shifting list of elusive demands.

Like all traumatic moments, this one channels the broader dilemma of how moderate MPs, ranging from the stolid social democratic tradition to a Blairite rump, can co-exist in a party dominated by an ideology which is predicated on eclipsing them and pursuing an entirely different strand of socialism.

Much effort has gone into eliding this since Corbyn’s election in 2015 but the strains are too wide to overcome, even in the “broad church” of a party that could start with Keir Hardie and eventually encompass (with great electoral success) Tony Blair.

As Marx put it, the task is not just to understand the world but to change it — and how to get that process started is the question facing Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie and the supporting cast. The Seven, according to their core argument, are appalled by the lackadaisical........

© Evening Standard