Live Blog: Jeremy Corbyn Elected Leader Of The Labour Party (Again)

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Jeremy Corbyn destroys Owen Smith’s pathetic candidacy, is re-elected leader of the Labour Party – Live Blog

Contact: semipartisansam@gmail.com

 

13:26

At this point I’m not sure what more there is to say. All of the arguments about how the Labour Party ended up in this position have been stated and restated over and over.

Inglorious defeat was long predicted by this blog – not least here, here and here.

One can only think that the restless, self-entitled centrists have shot themselves (and their party) in the foot with this reckless and doomed leadership challenge – and for what? Corbynism, however misguided, has earned the right to be tested at a general election. And all of these furious attempts by the PLP to circumvent that process and disenfranchise Jeremy Corbyn’s base have only hardened his support – and strengthened the impression that the centrist Westminster establishment do not trust the British electorate to choose from a full palette of political shades, insisting on artificially limiting our choice beforehand lest we make the “wrong” choices.

As this blog recently noted:

One way or another, the establishment seems determined not to give the quaintly antiquated socialism of Jeremy Corbyn the opportunity to fail on its own. Labour’s centrist MPs do so because they are hungry to pursue what they see as the quickest route back to power (and some fear losing their seats in a 2020 anti-Corbyn landslide), and the rest of the political and media establishment do so because they are alarmed by Corbyn’s views on NATO, Trident and other issues, and do not trust the British people to likewise see the flaws in these ideas and reject them.

Of course, the sad irony is that by going to such extreme lengths to prevent Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist ideas being tested in a general election, the establishment is doing more than anyone else – more even than Corbyn himself – to harden support for those failed ideas, ensuring that they live on even longer past their “sell by” date.

Furthermore, the idea of centrist MPs enforcing what is essentially a de facto ideological test for any politician seeking high national office is grossly offensive to our democracy, revealing the establishment’s contempt for the people in all its hateful glory. We the people are more than capable of determining which political ideas are good, bad, offensive, dangerous or otherwise, and we have no need for a sanctimonious elite to pre-screen our choices for us.

The only things necessary to defeat Corbynism are Jeremy Corbyn himself and the British electorate. It’s sad that Labour MPs and the political / media establishment are simultaneously too selfish and too distrustful of the British people to realise this obvious truth.

This failed coup against Jeremy Corbyn has also revealed the utter dearth of talent among Labour’s centrist MPs. Even the supposed “big beasts” are little more than field mice – none of them had the courage to put their own political careers and future leadership ambitions on the line by challenging Jeremy Corbyn, leaving it to the underwhelming Owen Smith to carry their banner.

But worse than failing to field a serious candidate, the centrists had no vision to offer. Like Jeremy Corbyn or loathe him, he has a vision for a different Britain and principles which he has stuck to for decades, not bending and shapeshifting in an attempt to flatter different interest groups. The centrists offered no vision at all, other than their naked hunger for power. But if you cannot articulate in an inspiring way what you choose to do with that power, it will not be granted to you.

Will the Labour centrists finally learn this lesson? I have absolutely zero confidence that they will.

12:40

Submission.

See my “submission” series – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

12:29

Good question from Norman Smith to Diane Abbott – “why shouldn’t local parties deselect local MPs who continue to be vocally critical of a popularly elected leader?”

Abbott deflects, choosing to be polite and magnanimous today – but Norman Smith’s question is a fair one. Why should pro-Corbyn CLPs continue to tolerate Labour MPs who do not share their beliefs and actively seek to undermine Corbyn’s leadership?

In fact – mandatory reselection for all!

12:24

To do otherwise would have required competence and vision, qualities with which the angry, self-entitled centrists are not exactly brimming over.

12:22

Thinking of starting an “it’s time for the Labour Party to come together” counter on this blog. Nearly everybody interviewed on the BBC so far has used that phrase, however unconvincingly.

12:16

Interesting report from Huffington Post – apparently Owen Smith “won” among under 24s (and pre-2015 members) according to an exit poll:

Owen Smith beat Jeremy Corbyn among Labour party members who joined the party before 2015, a new exit poll has revealed.

Although he was defeated in the overall election, the YouGov/ElectionData poll found that Smith also won among 18-24 year-olds and Scottish party members.

The survey found that 63% of pre-2015 party members had backed the Pontypridd MP, to just 37% for Corbyn.

But the current leader had a huge lead among the tens of thousands who have joined the party since Ed Miliband quit, with 74% of them backing him to just 24% for Smith.

Among those who had joined since Corbyn became leader, a massive 83% said they had voted for him in the 2016 leader election, and 15% voted Smith.

While this sounds quite surprising at face value, digging a little deeper I’m not so sure that it is unexpected. Look at the young people who typically get into politics – a significant number of them tend to be university Labour/Conservative types, people who entertain either vague or determined ambitions to one day climb up the greasy pole and launch political careers of their own. Young Labour activists such as these likely want to taste political power one day rather than dwell in permanent opposition, and since prevailing wisdom (right or wrong) is that Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable is it really surprising that many of them fell into line behind the candidate who looked the part of the typical, professional political candidate? I don’t think so.

12:14

Yeah, I picked up on this too:

12:11

Not a whole lot of sympathy for Owen Smith from the Left:

Good. Owen Smith is an awful politician and was a terrible leadership candidate. He deserves neither consolation nor sympathy.

12:06

Chuka Umunna on the BBC, on the defensive against the potential deselection of “good, hardworking and popular” local Labour MPs.

Newsflash, Chuka – if they were so tremendously “popular” among the party activists who sweat blood to get them elected to Parliament in the first place, they wouldn’t be at risk of deselection. But since they have openly defied the wishes of their own local party members, they must now steel themselves to face the consequences.

12:02

Hilarious watching sulking centrists stalking out of the conference hall and refusing to even talk to the BBC reporter (Norman Smith) stationed outside. They have only themselves to blame for pitching the biggest hissy fit in the world against Corbyn’s leadership while utterly failing to come up with a compelling vision of their own for the future of the Labour Party and Britain.

12:00

Well, that wasn’t a bad victory speech from Jeremy Corbyn – far more magnanimous than I would have been under the circumstances. He congratulated the supporters and activists of both leadership campaigns in a general paean to political activism, and tried to immediately move the focus forward by plugging some big campaign for education (basically against grammar schools) next week.

I’m not sure if that will be enough to glue the warring Labour Party back together – however many times the phrase “we all need to come together” are uttered by different Labour MPs and officials over the course of the day. But for Jeremy Corbyn, it is clearly now business as usual.

11:50

And it’s Jeremy Corbyn (naturally), with 313,209 votes of 506,428 cast, meaning a breakdown of Corbyn 61.8% / Smith 38.2%.

 

Jeremy Corbyn - Paris Attacks - Terrorism - Appeasement

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Submission

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After pompously telling anyone who will listen that they cannot possibly work with Jeremy Corbyn, Labour’s centrist MPs are preparing to bend the knee and meekly return to Corbyn’s shadow cabinet once he is re-elected leader of the party

 

UPDATE: Read Part 2 here.

 

Labour’s tantrum-throwing centrist MPs, recognising their man Owen Smith’s imminent defeat by Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership contest, are apparently now making frantic overtures to the Corbyn camp so that their treachery might be forgiven, allowing them to serve in the shadow cabinet once again.

The Telegraph reports:

Senior Labour politicians who quit the shadow cabinet in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership are drawing up plans for a truce that would see them return to his team if he is re-elected this month.

Mr Corbyn was rocked by dozens of resignations from his shadow government in the aftermath of the EU referendum, in a rebellion that triggered a leadership contest.

However, with polls suggesting that Mr Corbyn is on course to win next week’s leadership election easily, a number of former shadow ministers are preparing the ground to return to work with him.

They will demand a list of assurances from Mr Corbyn as a sign of his goodwill before pledging their support.

These include allowing them greater say in the running of the shadow cabinet, giving his support to a return to shadow cabinet elections, and dropping the threat that MPs who opposed his leadership will face de-selection.

And the FT:

Some senior Labour MPs who resigned from the shadow cabinet en masse in the early summer are braced to go back and serve under Mr Corbyn. One said: “I do not see what the other options are. At the end of the day, we have to fulfil our role, which is providing opposition to the Tory government.”

[..] One former frontbencher said that if Labour MPs did not fall back into line, it would continue to “feed the narrative” that Mr Corbyn was being undermined by “Blairite” enemies in the Parliamentary Labour party. “Quite a few of my colleagues feel the same way, although not everyone.”

[..] “There is a real determination among a number of us to make sure that we try to do the job that needs to be done: holding the Tories to account,” said one former frontbencher. “You can do that to some extent from the backbenches but you can do it much more effectively from the front benches . . . but the onus is now on Jeremy to unite the party.”

Translation: “Being out of the political spotlight and festering away on the backbenches is killing us and our career aspirations, so please can we come in from the cold?”

Well, well, well.

I suppose one has to admire the nerve of the centrists, daring to issue conditions for their return to the shadow cabinet having taken the reckless and self-serving decision to flounce out and destabilise their party at a time (in the aftermath of the Brexit vote) when stability was most required. Corbyn has thus far shown no qualms about filling the gaps in his shadow cabinet with D-listers and nobodies – what makes the likes of Chris Bryant, Lucy Powell or Angela Eagle think that Corbyn is desperately pining for their return?

But in another sense, this pitiful capitulation is not surprising. The Parliamentary Labour Party called Jeremy Corbyn’s bluff and lost, badly. There is ample blame to go around – some for the remaining “big beasts” of the party who were too cowardly and self-serving to put their names forward as leadership contenders, leaving it to unloved support acts like Angela Eagle and the contemptible Owen Smith; some for misbehaving shadow ministers like Hilary Benn who took the job and then rebelled and briefed against their leader at every opportunity; and last but not least, a portion of the blame rests with every single one of the 172 Labour MPs who opportunistically calculated that the confused aftermath of the EU referendum provided a great “fog of war” in which they could go full Brutus on Jeremy Corbyn’s Caesar and get away with it.

Well, it didn’t work. Nobody viable stepped forward, the party membership was enraged at the parliamentary party challenging their pick for leader less than a year into the job, and Owen Smith’s damp squib of a campaign lurched from one unforced error to the next. Apparently the odious man can now be found swanning around Britain portentously comparing himself to Saint Aneurin Bevan of Tredegar, founder of Our Blessed NHS (genuflect), hoping that Labour members will not take the time to google his past career as a pharmaceutical lobbyist and statements broadly supportive of privatisation.

So what should the centrists do? Well, if they had an ounce of genuine conviction and commitment to principle (ha) then they would part ways with a Labour Party which has “left them” (to paraphrase their unconvincing bid for sympathy) and set up shop as a new party of the centre-left. But they will not do so, partly for selfish reasons – they want to keep ownership of the party apparatus and assets – but also for the very practical reason that starting a new political party from scratch and making a success of it is almost impossible. Sure, 150+ defectors would be much better than the “gang of four” who helped to found the SDP back in 1981. But while their parliamentary contingent might initially be fairly large they would need to build up a party structure and grassroots campaigning organisation from scratch in a very short space of time, or face certain annihilation at the 2020 general election.

And so the unhappy bedfellows will likely limp on together, Corbynites and centrists openly despising one another but remaining stuck with each other thanks to the British political system. The centrists will continue to moan to any journalist who will listen, Dan Hodges will have more material for his Mail on Sunday column than he knows what to do with, the PLP will do everything they can to make Jeremy Corbyn’s life a living hell, and Corbyn’s team will do all they can to set the stage for a purge of the centrists, either at the upcoming constituency boundary review or when it comes time to choose candidates for the 2020 general election.

Besides, the centrists have some thinking to do before they can make a plausible bid to take back leadership of the Labour Party. First and foremost, they must decide on a shared position on Brexit, which will be close to impossible – the centrist MPs are salivating at the prospect of thwarting Britain’s exit from the European Union by any means possible, no matter how far-fetched. Their every instinct is to take up and amplify the great howl of anguish emanating from the metro-left at the prospect of being forcibly ripped away from a European Union which most of them barely understand but which is absolutely central to their identities as progressive, enlightened model citizens. Unfortunately, this involves waving a big fat middle finger to Labour’s working class supporters, particularly those in the north of England, who were some of the most enthusiastic voters for Brexit.

The result will likely be another fudge and evasion as regularly practised by the Labour Party. They will reaffirm their commitment to the European Union and their desire to overturn the result of the EU referendum or at least to hold a second or third referendum until they achieve the desired result, while uttering glib, platitudinous assurances that they understand people’s frustration with the EU and with immigration, and that they will work for some mystical reform at some point in the future. They will grab hold of the Magical EU Reform Unicorn as tight as they can, while repeating to themselves that in fact they simply need to work harder to educate people of the wonders of European political union and mass immigration.

The political ground has shifted underneath all of Britain’s political parties, and while none have yet truly come to terms with the new post-Brexit reality and the schism on the Left, it is the Labour centrist MPs who are in the strongest denial right now. This is mostly because original thinking is required, and few of their number are capable of the feat. Jeremy Corbyn offers (with one or two exceptions) a very traditional and anachronistic form of socialism, ossified since the late 1970s. To regain power, the centrists cannot simply repudiate Corbynism or match Tory centrism while blathering on about equality and fairness. They need to jack in the Blairite triangulation and reimagine the role of the big, activist state that they love in a way which makes sense in the new century. Most are unwilling to put in this work – they think they can cheat their way back to power using a playbook which is twenty years old.

It won’t work. And however limited Jeremy Corbyn’s appeal to the wider country may be, he will not be dislodged as party leader until somebody else comes along with a compelling, clearly identifiable programme for government of their own – something sufficiently distinct from Theresa May’s authoritarian Toryism that Labour Party members (a) agree with it, and (b) think the country might vote for it.

Owen “I’m Nye Bevan!” Smith is a pitiful joke, as was Angela “I am my own woman!” Eagle when she was also running for leader. When the centrists have done their homework, one of them – preferably one with name recognition and a sprinkling of gravitas – can step forward and present their shiny new plan for Labour, and maybe the party membership will listen.

But until that happens, this is Jeremy Corbyn’s party. And that is how it will remain.

 

UPDATE: Read Part 2 here.

 

Jeremy Corbyn - PMQs

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What Next For The Labour Party?

And when Jeremy Corbyn storms to re-election as Labour leader, what then?

Ben Kelly despairs:

To see just how low the Labour Party has sunk don’t look at Jeremy Corbyn, look at the usurper the rebels have chosen; Owen Smith. Is that really the best they have to offer? He is a total non-entity with no personal charm whatsoever. His combination of smarm and Corbyn-lite policy ideas are sure to repel the electorate and offer no hope for redemption for his wretched party. His ambition vastly outsizes his talent and the fact his pitch has been an attempt to attract Corbyn supporters exposes him as not just weak, but utterly pointless.

If Owen Smith miraculously manages to win the leadership race is he really going to bring salvation for the Blairites? He asserts that he is the only person who can unite the Labour Party but it is clear that he hasn’t the courage or the political intelligence to confront the Corbynite activist base, nor has he got the full blooded support of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

The harsh truth is that those figures in the Labour Party who really want to be leader have opportunistically ducked out of this race because they don’t want to enter a leadership race they will probably lose. They are too cowardly to take on the Momentum crowd and want to bid for the leadership when they can cruise into the position in some fantasy future when the Corbnyites realise the error of their ways.

Before Corybn Labour were already losing voters and it was mainly due to welfarism and immigration. Owen Smith is in no better position to win back the voters that have abandoned his party because of these issues than Corbyn. To that you can also add his Europhilia and his commitment to push for a second referendum in a blatant attempt to prevent Brexit. Ideologically his is little more attractive to the electorate and personally? This creep isn’t going to be embraced by the British people anytime soon.

The spending commitments in his cringeworthy, amateur hour, 20 policy pledges is quite enough to repel the wider electorate. The 28% that Corbyn’s hapless Labour Party is polling at the moment is clearly an over estimation, and the idea that Owen Smith is the man to reverse this dire situation is laughable.

The fact that even the man trying to oust Corybn thinks Britain wants socialism of any kind, even after Milibandism was comprehensively rejected in 2015, is a clear indication that Labour is in very serious trouble. It will either split or leap head first into electoral oblivion from which it will likely never recover.

Pete North is similarly unenthused:

Well, at least Corbyn is powering a thriving socialist folk song revival.

This blog’s assessment, however, remains unchanged:

If Jeremy Corbyn remains as leader and takes Labour to an historic defeat in the 2020 general election, the party will be out of power for nine more years at most. But if the centrists, acting in a fit of pique at finding themselves out of favour and influence for once, decide to split the party then it will be ruined and broken forever. The time horizon in the minds of the centrist rebels conveniently gels with the likely length of their own political careers. When centrist Labour MPs earnestly declare that the future of the Labour Party is at stake, what they really mean is that their own parliamentary careers are at stake. The Labour Party has survived bad leaders before. What it cannot survive is the treachery and self-serving behaviour of the majority of its own parliamentary caucus.

If Labour’s centrists are serious about regaining control of their party and influence within in, there is only one course of action. And it involves sitting down, shutting up and letting Corbyn drive Labour off a cliff at the 2020 general election. Anything less than their full-throated support (or at least their tacit acceptance of his rule) will see bitter Corbynites attempt to pin the blame for their defeat on lack of enthusiasm (or indeed sabotage) within the parliamentary party. If Corbyn is to be deposed and Corbynism rejected once and for all, he and McDonnell must be given a clear shot at the general election and allowed to fail on their own.

“But people can’t take nine more years of Tory rule”, sanctimonious centre-leftists wail, indulging in their favourite pastime of painting themselves as the sole Defenders of the Poor. This would be a marginally more convincing if there was actually a radical, Thatcherite conservative government in office rather than the Cameron/May Tories who preach statist, paternalistic big government solutions to every problem – effectively Tony Blair’s missing fourth term.

It would be more convincing if there was more than a cigarette paper’s difference between centrist Labour and the leftist Toryism practised by a party which has more to say about “social justice” than liberty and freedom. But since there is so little difference, it doesn’t really matter whether Labour are in power or not – so they may as well take this decade to get their house in order and decide exactly what kind of party they want to be.

And if, at the end of that process of sober reflection, the decision remains that the party would be better off splitting into a hard left contingent and a centrist contingent for the professional political class then so be it. But this is a grave and permanent decision indeed, of sufficient magnitude that it ought to be determined by something more than the frustrated career aspirations of a few restless centrist Labour backbenchers.

Advice that will doubtless be ignored as this failed generation of exceptionally unexceptional Labour centrist MPs howl, rage and bring the Labour Party crashing down upon their heads, beside themselves with self-entitled rage at being out of power and influence for even a few short years.

 

Owen Smith - Labour Party Leadership Coup

h/t Christopher Snowdon – Thank you for the music

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Jeremy Corbyn, His Place Confirmed On The Leadership Ballot Paper, Declares War On The Centrists

Jeremy Corbyn taunts centrist Labour MPs with a subtle repudiation of Neil Kinnock’s 1985 party conference speech denouncing Militant Tendency

After avoiding a party stitch-up to prevent him from automatically going forward into the Labour leadership ballot, Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters have been taking something of a victory lap.

The Labour NEC’s decision prompted the valedictory video shown above, hosted on the official Jeremy Corbyn YouTube channel and promoted on the Labour leader’s social media accounts.

In the video, Corbyn concludes his remarks:

Our party is determined that the next government will meet the needs of all of the people of this country. That will invest in health, in housing, in education, in jobs, in infrastructure.

The next government will be a Labour government – a Labour government– committed to ending the injustice and inequality that exists in Britain today.

My emphasis in bold.

I highlight this phrase because I do not believe it was accidental. In fact, I believe it was a direct and very deliberate reference to former party leader Neil Kinnock’s 1985 speech to the Labour Party conference, in which Kinnock (in a bid to make his party more electable) denounced the far-left Liverpool city council and the Militant tendency wing of the party.

Here’s what Kinnock said in 1985:

I’ll tell you what happens with impossible promises.  You start with far-fetched resolutions.  They are then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, and you go through the years sticking to that, outdated, misplaced, irrelevant to the real needs, and you end up in the grotesque chaos of a Labour council – a Labour council – hiring taxis to scuttle round a city handing out redundancy notices to its own workers.

Jeremy Corbyn’s choice of repetition (“a Labour government – a Labour government”) in his address today is, I am certain, not coincidental. On the contrary, it is a direct reference to Neil Kinnock’s speech and a repudiation of Neil Kinnock’s work in the 1980s to drag the Labour Party closer to the political centre (Corbyn himself was part of an effort to depose Neil Kinnock from the leadership in 1988).

By flagrantly co-opting Kinnock’s turn of phrase, Corbyn is defiantly stamping his own authority on the Labour Party. Corbyn is making clear that he is the Labour Party now, for all intents and purposes, and that the party of Kinnock, Smith, Blair, Brown and Miliband has passed away.

Anybody entertaining any lingering wistful belief that Jeremy Corbyn will “do the right thing” and slink away “for the good of the party”, letting the centrists resume their rule without a fight, should now abandon all hope.

This is Jeremy Corbyn’s party now. And he is here to stay.

 

Neil Kinnock’s 1985 party conference speech – highlight:

 

Jeremy Corbyn - Labour Leadership Election - Victory Nears

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In Defence Of Jeremy Corbyn

The Labour Party is Jeremy Corbyn’s party now. If rebellious centrist MPs don’t like it, it is for them to leave and find (or found) a new party, and new voters to support them

This blog has little time for the left-wing politics of Jeremy Corbyn, but has consistently supported his leadership of the Labour Party – not out of some mischievous desire to make Labour unelectable, but because centrism is a disease which has sucked the meaning and consequence from British politics, allowing indistinguishable governing elites from all parties to consistently act in their own interests rather than the national interest (see: European Union). And in our current centrist malaise, this blog has common cause with anyone who promises to give the British people a genuine ideological choice.

The naivety and numerous missteps in Corbyn’s first year in charge of Labour have been frustrating to watch, as they have only given further ammunition to those bitter centrist forces who never accepted the validity of his leadership in the first place, and who have been working tirelessly (and in many cases openly) to undermine their leader since the day he was elected. And this blog has had occasion to take Corbyn to task several times for his controversial stances, particularly in the realm of national security and foreign policy.

But Corbyn now finds his leadership under sustained and determined attack by a Parliamentary Labour Party determined to be rid of him in order to resume their previous, uninspiringly bland centrist course. Though this rebellion was precipitated by the shock Brexit victory in the EU referendum (with many sullen Labour MPs blaming their leader for failing to uncritically sing the EU’s praises loudly enough during the campaign), the Labour coup has in fact been building for months. Even I, at the outermost margins of the London political scene, am aware of the late night plotting which has been taking place in homes and pubs with a view to deposing Jeremy Corbyn – in some cases before he had even been formally elected as leader.

And now, ten months later, things are finally coming to a head.

The Parliamentary Labour Party’s stalking horse in this campaign is Angela Eagle. Yes, that complete and utter nonentity Angela Eagle, the former shadow Business Secretary with the voice and mannerisms of a Dalek.

LabourList reports:

Angela Eagle today kicked off her challenge to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, saying that her priority is to “heal” the Labour Party.

The former Shadow Business Secretary, who resigned from the frontbench last month, accused Corbyn of “hiding” from his critics. She said that Labour needed to be “strong and united” to deal with the fallout from the Leave vote in the EU referendum, and that Corbyn is now unable to deliver that.

Setting out her pitch to be Labour leader on ITV’s Peston show, Eagle said: “I think we need someone who can heal the party.

“I think we need to have somebody that can lead the Labour Party forwards and unfortunately Jeremy has lost the confidence of the vast majority of his parliamentary party.

“We need a strong and united Labour Party that can put a very compelling case to the British people to deal with the challenges that Brexit will give.”

And the rebels intend to create this “strong and united” party by fixing the rules to prevent Jeremy Corbyn from automatically appearing on the ballot in the first place.

The Telegraph reports:

The two rivals made televised pitches to supporters this morning in broadcast interviews after a dramatic series of developments ended the stand-off over the embattled leader’s position.

Ms Eagle suggested Mr Corbyn should not automatically be on the ballot. “He will have to find the nominations”, she said.

“I’m a gay woman with strong, Northern, working class roots. I think I’m the right person for this job at this time”.

So this would-be Labour leader is already resorting to crass and superficial identity politics to get on the ballot, presenting her socioeconomic background and sexuality as traits which would somehow make her a better leader.

What fatuous nonsense. What the Labour Party really needs is not some wheedling, self-entitled centrist who thinks that being a gay woman gives her additional plus points, but an authentic leader who can actually connect with Labour’s disillusioned base by actually reflecting some of their fears, priorities and aspirations.

And it gets worse:

Former shadow business secretary Ms Eagle said Mr Corbyn had “failed to fulfil his first and foremost duty, that is to lead an organised and effective Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) that can both hold the Government to account and demonstrate we are ready to form a government in the event of a general election”.

Speaking earlier this morning Angela Eagle did not set out any policy areas where she differed from Mr Corbyn but said he was not able to win a general election.

Angela Eagle’s leadership bid is particularly risible because given a prime spot on the Sunday shows to set out her own alternative policy stall, she failed to name a single substantive difference between herself and Jeremy Corbyn. One would think that rattling off a few clear dividing lines would be easy, given how terribly left-wing Corbyn supposedly is, but apparently we are supposed to be sufficiently entranced by Eagle’s winning personality that we don’t need to see an alternative policy platform.

In fact, the article goes on to mention that Eagle’s greatest selling point is apparently her “electability” and ability to connect with the British people – a skill which she has thus far failed to demonstrate during her own utterly unremarkable political career.

But it’s okay – the Guardian (always the voice of the power-hungry metro Left rather than the true socialists or the working classes, and who supported Yvette Cooper of all people for the leadership) tells us that Angela Eagle is “tough”:

Many believe the former shadow business secretary and chess champion is up to the challenge. “She’s tough – in the best possible sense of the word,” a former colleague, who rates her chances highly, observed.

[..] The leadership contest really began for her on 27 June, when she became the 15th member of Jeremy Corbyn’s frontbench to leave, tweeting that she had done it “with deep regret, and after nine months of trying to make it work”.

Let’s be honest. None of the former shadow cabinet ministers who resigned in an attempt to destabilise Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and force his resignation tried to “make it work”. They were simply biding their time, waiting for the opportune moment to strike against him. And following defeat for the Remain side in the EU referendum and with the fear of an impending snap general election, the timetable was accelerated.

When Angela Eagle and others speak of “healing” the Labour Party, what they mean is dragging it back to the old settlement where the left-wingers knew their place, shut up and didn’t cause any trouble. The plotters have no interest in reaching a consensus or balance of views across the party – they just want to return to the centrist days where Labour competes for power by trying to look as similar to the Tories as possible while yammering on about compassion a bit more. That’s what the rebels are familiar with, and that is what they think offers them the greatest chance of returning to power. Their minds cannot conceive of another path to victory, one based on principle and persuasion rather than compromise and trickery.

What is most offensive about the behaviour of the Parliamentary Labour Party is the arrogance of Labour MPs who think that the fact that they sit in parliament gives their voices greater weight and importance than the overwhelming majority of Labour members and supporters who overwhelmingly supported Corbyn in the leadership election. For a party which supposedly exists to lift up the oppressed and give the ordinary working people a voice, the Labour rebels show a remarkable disdain for their own internal party democracy. And now, bizarrely, they seek to blatantly subvert the wishes of their own party members while still demanding the loyalty (and campaign support) of the very activists whom they are in the process of betraying. This is the arrogance of the permanent political class.

And just contrast this low political skulduggery with what Jeremy Corbyn has been doing.

This weekend, Jeremy Corbyn spoke at the annual Durham Miners’ Gala, an important fixture in the socialist calendar. In an unprecedented move, many serving Labour MPs from the Northeast were disinvited from attending the reception by Gala organisers because of their war of attrition against their own party leader.

The Guardian reports:

The Durham Miners’ Gala attracts at least 100,000 people annually, but this time many Labour MPs from the north-east had tickets to the official reception rescinded by the leader of the Durham Miners’ Association, Dave Hopper. He accused those who had backed the parliamentary vote of no confidence in Corbyn as traitors and “New Labour remnants” who “cannot stand any form of democracy and appear to be interested only in themselves”.

This is the toxic state of relations between the party’s working class base and its elite, out of touch parliamentary caucus. An event like the Durham Miners’ Gala should be de rigeur for any self-respecting Labour MP, and for these MPs to be banned from attending shows the scorn, contempt and even hatred in which they are now held by people who should be their supporters.

All of the warning signs are there: The huge gains for UKIP at Labour’s expense in the 2015 general election. The spurning of centrist Labour’s slavishly pro-Brussels stance in the EU referendum. The banning of centrist MPs from the Durham Gala. And still the Parliamentary Labour Party is treating the party membership and their own working class base with complete and utter open contempt. Still they are sending the message that working class people are only welcome when they shut up, vote Labour and don’t try to influence policy in a more authentically left-wing direction.

And yet against this backdrop, Jeremy Corbyn addressed the Durham Miners’ Gala. This is what he had to say:

There’s a lot of debate about what’s happening in the Labour party at the present time. And I am inundated with questions, questions, questions all the time. And I have patience that is infinite to answer questions, questions and questions.

But one I got today really did puzzle me. They said are you coping with the pressure that’s on you? I simply said this: there is no pressure on me. None whatsoever. Real pressure, real pressure, real pressure – is when you don’t have enough money to feed your kids, when you don’t have a roof over your head, when you are wondering if you are going to be cared for, when you’re wondering how you are going to survive, when you’re wondering how you’re going to cope with the debts you’ve incurred, you’re wondering if your lovely employer is going to give you a call to give you a couple of hours of work, or not bother, or change their mind when you’re on the bus on the way to do that job.

That is the real pressure in our society.

For those people struggling on low pay, struggling on zero hours contracts, not knowing what’s coming from one week to the other, not knowing if they’ll be able to pay the rent, not knowing if they are going to be homeless, not knowing if their children will end up in care, that’s the kind of brutal pressure that’s put on people every day of the week in this country.

Watch the video at the top of this article. Hats off to Corbyn’s speechwriter for a powerful and actually well-written peroration, and to Corbyn himself for an authentically passionate delivery. Whatever else you might say about Corbyn, he shows more eloquence and passion in two minutes here than Ed Miliband managed to muster in five years of cerebral, ineffective opposition.

Here is an embattled leader, stabbed in the back by nearly his entire shadow cabinet (including a number of complete nonentities who would never have had shadow ministerial careers at all were it not for Corbyn), who even now is making speeches highlighting the struggles of the poor, the sick and the marginalised rather than his own plight. I’m sorry, but that’s a class act – and one which only serves to show the petty sniping and plotting of his rebellious colleagues in an even more damning light.

There is no way that this ends well for the Labour Party – and the fault lies entirely with the centrists. Even if they succeed in keeping Jeremy Corbyn off the ballot paper and unjustly ending his leadership, their petulant, childish and subversive actions have created a new normal for dissent within the party.

If Ed Miliband had suffered just one of the many acts of defiance and insubordination from his shadow cabinet that Jeremy Corbyn endures on a near daily basis, the offending MPs would have been banished to the cold extremities of Westminster political life before you could blink (much as nobody really remembers who Adam Afriyie is following his impertinent challenge to David Cameron’s leadership back in 2013).

But how things have changed. Now, it is apparently perfectly acceptable for Labour MPs to openly speculate about their leader’s skills and abilities on the Sunday shows, or for shadow cabinet ministers to vent their frustrations to sympathetic newspaper columnists. Now, even the most junior shadow minister is free to air their grievances in public, party and message discipline be damned. In fact, the level of childish playground politics we are now witnessing makes the unedifying tussle between the Blairites and Brownites look like the model of courteous debate.

The Labour rebels are deluding themselves if they think that this rotten and cowardly behaviour will go back in the box once Corbyn is deposed. It won’t. Such behaviour has now been legitimised by senior Labour figures, including Angela Eagle herself. And these same tactics will be used mercilessly against any compromise, unity or centrist candidate who manages to steal the crown from Jeremy Corbyn – by angry leftists and other centrists who simply want to steal power for their own faction.

This is what Labour’s petulant, rebellious centrists have wrought. A leader undermined by the seething resentments and petty career aspirations of his ideologically rootless, C-list challengers, and a party rendered utterly ungovernable thanks to a complete breakdown in discipline.

But one thing remains clear: after being elected leader outright on the first ballot with nearly 60% of the vote, Jeremy Corbyn remains the one with a mandate. And a quick scan of the swelling membership roles underlines the fact that this is Jeremy Corbyn’s party now. It no longer belongs to the centrists.

This blog has no time or sympathy for the Labour centrists, but one can appreciate their dilemma, serving in a party under a leader they cannot (or will not) support. But it is for them to leave the party. Jeremy Corbyn, love him or loathe him, has earned the right to lead his party. He won a huge mandate from the party membership less than a year ago, and retains widespread popularity.

And if Angela Eagle and her fellow plotters don’t like it, it is for them to leave the Labour Party and go in search of a new party and new supporters.

The door is open, and they most assuredly will not be missed.

 

Jeremy Corbyn - Labour Leadership Election - Victory Nears

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