Today’s news about Seven Labour MPs leaving the Labour Party and forming The Independent Group could, of course, be a seminal moment in UK Politics or of course, it may be a footnote in history and quickly forgotten. Is this a full-blown Labour split or a Splinter.
It’s interesting that the announcement was made today in a brief gap in the Brexit furor. Some have wondered whether this should have waited until after next week but then again will the legislative process for Brexit ever end.
The wider question, of course, is whether or not it will succeed in re-aligning Westminster politics.
What’s interesting is that no new party has been formed (at least not yet) a Limited Company has been formed instead. Contrast that with Nigel Farage and the formation of a full-blown registered party ‘The Brexit Party’.
If and when a new party is formed it faces the two key barriers.
Firstly the electoral system – first past the post is unforgiving to new parties. UKIP got 14% in the 2015 Election and came out with 1 MP and even he was a Conservative retread.
Secondly, parties need members and infrastructure ( officers, data, money and election agents for example) and this can take years to build up.
UKIP’s failure to break through and win seats in the House of Commons in 2015 was down to both these factors.
At this stage, we can say the 7 ex-Labour MPs have planted a Flag in the centre ground and we will see how many others join them and what the next steps are.