The rancour and recriminations over the General Election outcome could fester on for some time if last weekend’s jibes and insults on social media are anything to go by, as WALTER CRONXITE reports
Two old men have had a Twitter spat.
Gavin Barwell started it.
A public argument between Croydon politicians Steve Reed OBE and “Baron” Barwell underlined their marginalisation in Britain’s post-Brexit politics.
Tory Barwell, kicked up to the House of Lords after his inglorious spell as chief of staff to Theresa Mayhem, saw Labour MP Reed’s post-election condemnation of the “Corbyn sect” as political hypocrisy. Barwell, and his sometime gobby fac totem, Mario Creatura – another Croydon politician with little to boast about – determined that Reed should be reminded that, until barely 24 hours earlier, he had been a member of Corbyn’s shadow team and was campaigning for his party leader to be Prime Minister.
Like many Labour figures around the country on Thursday night, even those like Croydon North MP Reed who had retained their seats in parliament, the depth and extent of the national defeat was a cruel shock.
On election night, Reed held the party line, at least for a while. “If the exit poll is right, this is a catastrophe for our community in Croydon North – absolutely gutted,” Reed said.
But in the cold light of Friday morning, the former deputy chair of Progress, the Blairite sect within the Labour Party, was railing against… sects.
“This colossal defeat is a repudiation of Corbynism. Labour needs to ditch the politics of the sect,” Reed said.
Barwell seized on this. “Never let him forget it,” the former Conservative MP trolled Reed.
Reed, though, gave as good as he got with a riposte to Barwell. “You stood silent as your party was taken over by a white nationalist Brexit party sect and you facilitated the election of a racist, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic serial liar as PM. I need no lessons from you.”
Sadly, for both politicians, their exchange betrays how their parties have moved on from more consensual politics.
Barwell failed to deliver Brexit but Boris Johnson will do so.
Reed’s hope of recapturing his party for vote-winning centrist policies looks hopeless with his party’s membership taking the view that it was Brexit which lost them the election, not the party’s policies.
The line taken by the Corbyn-supporting limited company, Momentum, is that it was a tactical error on offering a second referendum on Brexit that lost so many seats in the Midlands and north of England, and that Corbyn’s chronic opposition leader ratings were an irrelevance.
The Labour Party, including Reed and Croydon Central’s MP, Sarah Jones, have already been thrust into a leadership contest, possibly to be resolved by the end of March, and likely to be another existential struggle between the left and right wings of the party.
This is amply demonstrated in Croydon, where the Labour Party organiser, Jack Buck, wields more power within the local party than does Reed.
Buck puts the blame squarely on “the catastrophic Brexit policy pushed for by Labour’s centrists.” You’d be correct if you assumed from that remark that Buck, a councillor in Southwark, is a Corbyn supporter.
Buck notes tellingly that, “the truth is that the centre of the party looks as valid as ever”.
Croydon Labour is clearly in an unhappy place.
Croydon Momentum staged an emergency post-election meeting yesterday – its first gathering for several months, though notably not in attendance were any of the Momentum members who are councillors, such as Felicity Flynn, Patsy Cummings, the thirsty Chris Clark, Andrew Pelling or the unselected Caragh Skipper.
Also absent was the “founder of Croydon Momentum” Niro Sirisena, now an ex-councillor since he was forced to resign after what council leader Tony Newman described as “a serious incident”, and acted to deal with the political fall-out before ever reporting the matter to the police.
The likes of Barwell and Reed have a limited role to play in politics where more than four in five voters cast their ballots for parties that are either nationalists or firmly staked out well away from the centre ground.
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