Who are the splitters? A quick guide

By Cathy Cole


Chuka Umunna

The putative leader of a new Centrist party, Chuka’s main characteristics are supreme self-confidence bordering on outright egotism and naked personal ambition.  He won his selection for Streatham in South London as a member of the soft-left Compass group, seeking to surf on the incoming Brownite wave when Tony Blair was forced to step down as PM.     Once elected, Chuka rose rapidly to become Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills – and struck up a cordial friendship with Blairite eminence grise Lord Mandelson.   He was initially thought to be a contender for the Labour leadership, before pulling out for his reasons which remain opaque.


Luciana Berger

Luciana Berger, MP for Liverpool Wavertree has been subjected to vile anti-semitic abuse online.  This must be condemned unequivocally.  At the same time, no Member of Parliament should be immune from political criticism because of their ethnicity of gender.   Luciana was selected as the PPC for Liverpool Wavertree with the assistance of her then partner Labour MP Sion Simon, at that time a Labour MP and close associate of Tom Watson.  The baffled look on her face when the name Bill Shankly was mentioned did not suggest any great familiarity with the culture or history of her Merseyside constituency. Latterly, she faced a vote of no confidence from her CLP (subsequently withdrawn after media pressure), having refused to welcome the prospect of a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.


Chris Leslie

An active advocate of austerity who once referred to himself as the “cutsfinder general”, Leslie was temporarily thrust into the position of Shadow Chancellor, when his former boss Ed Balls lost his seat in the 2015 election.    Leslie is currently MP for Nottingham East, but he was imposed as the Labour candidate by the NEC. He has never been popular in the constituency and had a motion of no confidence moved against him last year. Prior to serving as an MP for Shipley in Yorkshire (where he was first elected in 1997), Leslie lost the seat to maverick Tory anti-feminist and gambling industry stooge Philip Davies.


Mike Gapes

A veteran of hard-right Labour student politics, Gapes served for three years Chair of the National Organisation of Labout Students before becoming its first paid organiser, where he fought to expel young socialists from the party’s ranks.    Gapes’ “specialism” is International Affairs, where he is a reliably pro-NATO, pro-imperialist hawk. An enthusiast for the Iraq war, Gapes has also faced accusations of anti-muslim bias.  Most recently, he has backed Trump’s atempts to engineer a coup in Venezuela.


Gavin Shuker

An evangelical “born-again” Christian, Shuker threatened to resign as a junior Shadow Minister, when Ed Miliband planned to mandate Labour MPs to suppport gay marriage.   He nominated Blairite Liz Kendall for the Leadership in 2015.


Ann Coffey

A stalking donkey in the “chicken coup” of 2016, where she tabled a motion of “no confidence” in Jeremy Corbyn along with Margaret Hodge, Ann has been an MP for Stockport since 1992.  Quite what she has achieved in her 27 years a Labour MP is an open question. A former PPS to both Tony Blair and Alistair Darling, Coffey was another supporter of Liz Kendall.


Angela Smith

An MP since 2005, Smith also lost a vote of no confidence from her local CLP activists last year.  Her Parliamentary career has been largely anonymous for over a decade, other than some useful work on animal rights.    She has latterly turned into a vocal People’s Vote advocate, having unsuccessfully attempted to deliver a few boxes of petitions to Labour’s Southside HQ.  Over 60% of her constituents voted to Leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.


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