The current Labour Party will not transition seamlessly from Jeremy Corbyn to Chuka Umunna, and any leadership coup proposing an Umunna-like replacement for Corbyn will make the Republican Party presidential primary look like a model of restraint and civility
Clearly the EU referendum and upcoming Budget are not providing enough excitement for Fraser Nelson, because he is also busy agitating for an immediate (and almost certainly ill-fated) coup to depose Jeremy Corbyn from the leadership of the Labour Party and replace him with exactly the kind of person who the Labour grassroots detest with every fibre of their souls.
It’s the Ides of March today, and there are pitifully few signs of a Labour plot. I was on ITV’s The Agenda last night with Chuka Umunna, one of the putative successors to Jeremy Corbyn, who was teased by Tom Bradby about his ambitions. He came out with the usual hedged denials (“there’s not a vacancy.,, I’ve said I would never say never”) but then came out with the rationale for ousting Corbyn.
The problem: most Labour members were not members this time last year. The party has been taken over by Corbynistas and while Labour MPs could technically change the leadership it’s harder to change the membership. Chuka agreed- but then gave the democratic case for deposing Corbyn, in defiance of the wishes of party members.
“Clearly, Jeremy has a very strong support amongst our membership. But then if you look at the parliamentary Labour party they have a direct mandate from 9.3m Labour voters. If you look at the research on things like Trident the parliamentary party would be closer to the views of the voters than the members and there’s that tension.”
So how to resolve the tension? I do hope the Labour moderates come up with a way soon, and bring this sorry pantomime to a close. PS At the end of The Agenda, guests are invited to present a fantasy front page. Mine was intended to give some encouragement to the Labour moderates.
Fraser Nelson’s pitch for a Chuka Umunna leadership bid consisted of this rather unlikely picture:
My views on Chuka remain unchanged until new evidence (of the non-hagiographic kind) prompt me to revise them:
Just what the Labour Party needs. Another dazed and confused London career politician stumbling shell-shocked and bewildered beyond the M25 in a belated effort to understand why so many working and middle class people – Britain’s strivers – spurned his party at the general election, totally unconvinced by a Labour manifesto and message conceived in Islington but barely embraced even in Hampstead.
At a time when David Cameron is building an inclusive Tory cabinet which conspicuously harnesses the talents of women and MPs from working class backgrounds, for Labour to respond by crowning a well-moneyed, metropolitan, UKIP-hating elitist such as Umunna would only serve to confirm everyone’s worst suspicions about the party.
And those suspicions are that the modern, virtue-signalling, style-over-substance Labour Party would rather dwindle to an angry, self-righteous, ideologically pure talking shop for the London dinner party set than do the hard work of rebuilding in order to actually help the people it claims to represent; that it lacks the wisdom to recall its ideological roots or the humility to reach out to its scorned party base.
The notion that the Labour Party as it is presently constituted could go from being led by Jeremy Corbyn to the stewardship of someone like Chuka Umunna without about three transitional leaders to ease the way is absolute fantasy. While New Labour centrists and wistful media types may wish it were otherwise, the Blairite Labour Party is in a state where it cannot simply be rejuvenated with a click of the fingers and a telegenic new leader.
At this point, even managing to replace Corbyn with somebody like Ed Miliband (himself considered unpalatably left wing by much of the country) would be a major achievement, and even that is highly unlikely. The fact that Dan Hodges – the columnist whose finger is closest to the pulse of Labour Party plots – thinks that the party’s current greatest hope is Angela Eagle, of all people, shows just how far the ground has shifted to the Left under Labour.
Fraser Nelson was hopefully just making a lighthearted joke when he suggested that Chuka Umunna succeed Jeremy Corbyn after a leadership coup which would be sure to enrage over half of the party’s membership. Because to even attempt to go from Jeremy Corbyn to Chuka Umunna in one step would precipitate such a period of rancour and infighting that it would make the Republican Party’s rage at its ongoing takeover by Donald Trump look like the model of civility and restraint.
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