Whenever the Nostradamus of Northcliffe House, the Mail on Sunday’s not at all celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges, makes a prediction, it goes badly wrong, almost with the certainty of night following day. He said Jeremy Corbyn would not be elected Labour leader, that Remain would win the EU referendum, and that Hillary Clinton would become US President. On all three, he was plain flat wrong.
He's still desperate, Dan
But Desperate Dan is never downhearted by such minor setbacks, and so when the force then known as The Independent Group was established in February this year, he ignored all those who recalled the fate of the 1980s SDP, and declared that this was a movement from which we would hear a great deal in the future.
“No one knows where this is all going to end. But with the defection of Tory MPs those attempting to dismiss TIG need to consider two facts. There is a gaping chasm in the political centre. And people on all sides of the political divide are finally attempting to fill it” he told, adding that when it came to establishing a proper policy process, “I think every single member of the TIG will stick with it through that process”.
Hodges reckoned “I don’t actually agree with analysis saying inevitable TIG starts to slip back significantly in the polls. Think they could potentially be challenging in by-elections in the right seats … Now only a matter of time before we get more defections. Key reason is there’s a growing sense in Westminster TIG is actually a viable political project rather than a kamikaze mission”. As for the effect on Jeremy Corbyn, well, it looked bad.
“Whatever happens to TIG from here, they have at least definitively ended Labour's ‘what should we do?’ debate. If you want to destroy Corbynism, you leave. His position is crumbling by the hour. Look at the hysteria of his supporters. Smell the fear”. Would Sir care to mention anti-Semitism? He certainly would. “None of what we’re seeing from the Labour leadership is about protecting the Jewish community from anti-Semitism. Or the nation from Brexit. All about protecting themselves from TIG”.
And TIG were going to be BIG. “This is a big card TIG are going to play. Every time someone like Marr points out differences in individual positions they're going to say ‘Yep. We have different positions on some issues. This is what the new politics looks like’”. Polls looked bad, but he remained faithful. “Change UK launch got its share of criticism. But reports of the party’s death appear to have been a touch premature”.
Even with electoral humiliation at the European Parliament elections imminent, Dan was still there. “Cable refuses to endorse Chuka Umunna's revocation call. Change UK have their first decent wedge issue of the campaign". But after those elections, he downgraded his optimism. “I keep saying the LDs and Change Uk need to get together and form something new”. The Lib Dems did not need to do anything, though.
That’s because the “New Politics” had put so much strain on Change UK that the entire project was breaking apart. As the Guardian has reported today, “Up to half of Change UK’s MPs are poised to leave the fledgling political party after its dismal performance in the European elections.” As in six MPs out of a total of eleven.
There was more. “Change UK’s interim leader, Heidi Allen, and the former Labour MP Chuka Umunna, who is the group’s spokesman, have been advocating closer cooperation with the Liberal Democrats, and are among those thought to be considering defecting to the party”. The paper’s chief political correspondent Jessica Elhot spelled out why.
“Bitter arguments on tactics, personality clashes and a comprehensive battering by the Lib Dems seems to have done for them”. Also, they received an early kiss of death from Desperate Dan Hodges. For such insights, and on column a week, he is reputed to be trousering a salary comfortably into six figures.
Getting it wrong so comprehensively, and so often, can be so lucrative. Who knew?
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