NEITHER nine belated swallows (swallowing hard) nor three cuckoos herald a political spring. Nor is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by the progeny of protest.
Politics has a distinctly autumnal feeling, given the number of leaves – i.e. Remainers – falling.
I have far more sympathy for the Labour defectors than the three utterly confused Tory ladies who remind me of David Owen, of SDP fame. They would probably be a menace to any party they joined, which bodes ill for the Independents.
But, overall, the defections just make me more frustrated with our politicians.
First, they focus attention on probably the majority of Labour MPs who have somehow tolerated up to now their party’s conversion into a classically Soviet apparatus. Where did they put their judgment – and their guts?
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s equanimity in the face of the nine departures is probably real. They just save him the trouble of de-selecting them.
Which brings me to the scores of turkeys who remain. They are actually voting for Christmas because Corbyn’s Momentum mob do not tolerate dissent. They will either have to conform or be deselected. And to conform means they will, to their utter shame, connive at the rise of a totalitarian state.
And that, in turn, means that if the hard Left ever secures power, Britain will be converted into a Russian satellite menacing the Continent and the US.
Far too little has been written about the fate that awaits us if Labour in its present form returns to power. I write as one who was brought up in a Labour home which owed everything to Methodism and nothing to Marx.
The objectives of my father and grandfather were simple: to challenge unearned privilege and progressively improve the condition of the working man and his family in a strict non-conformist way. That required honest toil, personal responsibility and self-improvement.
In one sense, my forefathers succeeded better than they ever knew. But in another, it has been downhill all the way since Clement Attlee’s post-war government. This owes perhaps less to the Left’s propensity for factionalism than the trade unions’ abuse of power and prosecution of the class war.
I was steeped in this too – as Northern Industrial correspondent for this newspaper; as a labour reporter for The Guardian in London; with the Prices and Incomes Board; at the Department of Employment (Barbara Castle’s White Paper In Place of Strife and Robert Carr’s ill-fated Industrial Relations Act); at the Department of Energy which was formed in the middle of a coal strike, a three-day week and an international energy crisis caused by OPEC; and finally with Margaret Thatcher in her epic struggle with Arthur Scargill’s private army.
I defy anyone to go through that experience and not be horrified at what the Labour Party has become. Yet Corbyn would let loose the destructive power of Len McCluskey, of Unite, in an intensification of the class war and on liberty.
It does not take a genius to know what they would do: they would attack all sections of the media that uttered a word of dissent. Ironically, under these Marxists, Trots and useful idiots we would be presentationally free but everywhere in chains.
And yet, for three years, moderate Labour MPs have stood idly by while their leader, to boot, does little or nothing to crush anti-Semitism and has a long history of consorting with terrorists.
My optimistic nature tells me that it will never come to this. Surely, the British people will never carelessly throw their precious freedom to the Marxist wolves?
But let us not be too sure. All the indications from academia are that hard-Left indoctrination is rife and that students who want a quiet life do not advertise their free thinking.
All this makes the Tory defectors look cheap. I wonder on the basis of the past week whether they know what they are talking about in exhibiting their independence while seeking subservience to the EU.
Mrs Thatcher was not ousted by Eurosceptics, but by Europhiles latching on to the opportunity created by the ERM-besotted Chancellor Nigel Lawson losing control of the economy.
And the Tories’ economic problem today is not because it is no longer, as the defectors claim, a One Nation party but because it is felt to be too centrist and not Tory enough in its tax and spending policies.
I hope it does not take a Corbyn government to bring the nation – and its politicians – to their senses. By then it might be too late.