Having over-egged the Labour Party’s problems, our free and fearless press has now decided to go one better, and over-egg the potential for there to be a split. After all, if they shout it long and loud enough, perhaps it might happen. But the most likely outcome is that, once again, the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate will end up having to lead its troops back down the hill with nothing to show for their exertions.
After Frank Field decided to jump, rather than wait to be pushed, the split rumours were in full swing, with the Mail firing up the 24-Hour Rolling News Speculatron™ with its headline “Labour faces a 'catastrophic split' as more MPs prepare to walk out after veteran Frank Field QUIT [sic] over Jeremy Corbyn's anti-semitism crisis and 'culture of intolerance’”.
So what was the story? “Wes Streeting warned Labour is teetering on the edge of a 'catastrophic split’”. But he wasn’t walking out. “Mike Gapes, the Ilford South MP, has been the focus of speculation he could also resign”. Ah, so someone who is going to resign, then? Well, maybe not: “He told MailOnline tonight he was still an Labour MP”.
Not much of a split, then. The only other thing the Mail could muster was the usual claim of “thuggery” (bit rich coming out of the Mail). But now the Murdoch Sun has gone one better, putting actual numbers on the supposed split. And the magic number is 12.
“DOZEN LOOK TOO GOOD Twelve Labour MPs are threatening to QUIT the party and trigger a no-confidence vote in Jeremy Corbyn” screams the headline. So when is it happening? “There are understood to be around a dozen Labour MPs considering their position within the party who could also resign the whip … But one MP added that Brexit was currently holding them back from commiting [sic] their next move of leaving”.
So it’s not happening yet, then. But the Murdoch goons have some names to pony up, don’t they? “Liz Kendall is thought to be among the MPs who have met up for secret talks”. Bloody hell, that hedge needs a trim. In fact, make that two hedges: “Others seen as possibly resigning the party whip include Luciana Berger, Iain Austin and Ruth Smeeth”.
There is more. Margaret Hodge is named, except she has said she is remaining within the party. Chris Leslie comes next, because he “talked to moderates”. And … Mike Gapes, except he’s already said he is still a Labour MP (see above). But they, along with Ms Berger, Austin and Ms Smeeth, are “six of [Frank Field’s] party colleagues [who] are seen as potentially following in his footsteps”. Except none of them talked to the Sun.
The Mail claimed a split was coming, but the only name they could hopefully pitch wasn’t resigning. Then the Sun claimed there were 12 Labour MPs ready to jump, but then ponied up only six names, none of whom spoke to the paper. That’s not good enough.
Inventing a split on the off-chance that it might, if banged on about incessantly, come about may please those on the 13th floor of the Baby Shard bunker. But all it will do out here in the real world is to lose yet more sales and lose yet more influence.
Still, if it’s the Mail and the Sun, who can object to that? Treble sales drops all round!
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