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By Frank McKenna

By Frank McKenna

Clowns To The Left of Me, Jokers To The Right

Never a week goes by nowadays without our mainstream political parties and leading figures within them demonstrating that many of them are, indeed, as daft as they look.

In the Red corner, we had the Corbynista fan club getting rabid about Chuka Umunna, who had asked his party leader to “call off the dogs” in respect of some of his moderate parliamentary colleagues who are being threatened with votes of no confidence and de-selection in a number of constituencies by ‘activists’.

Bad enough that the Twitter keyboard warriors and Momentum maniacs took to social media to condemn the former Labour leadership contender for comparing the Comrades with dogs; they were joined by the shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who surely should know better.

As one of the Twitterati responded, “If you think using the phrase ‘call off the dogs’ actually means you are calling individuals dogs, you are a thick twat.”

This was then followed up by Diane Abbotts claim that Jeremy Corbyn is the most anti-racist leader Labour has ever had. I’m not sure how she measures this or comes to such a conclusion. However, I have heard Michael Foot, Neil Kinnock (a huge anti-apartheid campaigner), John Smith, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and Ed Miliband make impassioned speeches about race equality. What is the evidence that Corbyn is any better than any of them when it comes to his views on race?

However, there are many in the Jewish community who would disagree – and he has done little to address their concerns from what I can see; and Kosovans would pick Blair over Corbyn any day of the week, having been saved from the torturous Milosevic regime by the former back in 1998.

If they are desperate to put the ‘Loony’ into ‘Left’ then McDonnell, Abbott and Co should simply continue to act in the way they have this week. It really has been a joy to behold – if you’re a Tory.

That being said, the Blue corner hasn’t exactly been a place of sanity, sweetness and light either has it? Talk of a coup against the prime minister from the swivel-eyed ‘Brextremists’; Boris Johnson comparing the UKs negotiations to a terrorist suicide vest and Jacob Rees Mogg being, well, Jacob Rees Mogg, has meant that the Conservative Party has appeared as dysfunctional and delusional as the official opposition.

Is there any light at the end of this long, dark tunnel? Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has offered to virtually put his party into ‘administration’ to use business parlance, if it were to progress the establishment of a new third force in British politics, occupying the centre ground.

He has outlined an approach that has proved successful with Macron in France, new party, new leader with little baggage attached to the existing political ‘elite’, and a centrist agenda. Trudeau in Canada, too, can be held up of an example of where this has worked.

Although he has ruled himself out of leading such a move and has shown no real desire to break what will be a deep emotional attachment to the Labour Party, could Umunna be the ‘leader’ such a grouping need.

In a recent feature in Esquire magazine, Chuka said “Politics is terribly old fashioned. Both main parties are reaching for old solutions to tomorrow’s problems.”

His anti-Brexit pro Peoples vote stance has made him arguably the leading anti-Brexit voice in parliament, and he has started to map out some thoughts around a broader range of policies too, including electoral reform, business and education.

Having seen his Labour leadership bid crash and burn under the intense scrutiny such a high- profile run was bound to bring three years ago, we can only watch this space to see if Umunna has the stomach for leading, or even being a part of, a breakaway movement in the future.

There is still a long way to go before the two political forces that have dominated Westminster for a century disintegrate and divide – it may never happen. However, many more weeks like the last one, and you wouldn’t bet against it.

Downtown in Business