15 August 2015

The Labour Leadership & Jeremy Corbyn

Let's just for one moment leave aside the popularity of Jeremy Corbyn.

Can any supporter of one of the other candidates truly say their candidate is of the sort of calibre and appeal that Labour are going to need for the mammoth task of winning in 2020?

Are Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham & Liz Kendall all the party can offer? They all seem very poor candidates. The evidence is in their lack of ability to motivate support behind them. Their campaigns have been dire. Even some of their biggest supporters admit that. If they cannot motivate support now, how are they going to do it in a general election?

This is not about ideology for me. Dan Jarvis is on the right of the party but he at least convinces that he could challenge the Tories.

The electability criticism was a powerful attack on Jeremy Corbyn when first used, but now it seems Jeremy is actually the most electable of all the candidates according to some new polls.

The next big criticism is that he cannot unite the party.

But could someone like Yvette Cooper or Liz Kendall unite the party when they refuse to work with a candidate destined to be first choice for leader of around half the members of the party?

But a lot of the parliamentary party will refuse to accept Jeremy as leader, I hear you cry?

Actually none of the candidates have that many direct backers in the PLP. Burnham around 70, Cooper 60 and Kendall 40, not much more than Corbyn's 36 nominations.

Yes I know only around 25 of these nominations are directly for Corbyn, but most of those extra nominations were Burnham supporters & will fall in line. Burnham has said he is open to being in Corbyn's cabinet. A prominent role for Burnham will mean around 110 MPs onboard, at least half of the other 120 MPs will respect the party membership & unify behind this big part of the PLP. But this still leaves around 60 very unhappy MPs, maybe half of these will be hell bent on destabilising the party.

In the first instance I imagine there won't be much for these rogue MPs to rebel against. Voting against the government is not that controversial on most issues.

The big rebellion will be played out in the all too willing media. Constant briefing against the leader, rumours of plots etc. But all of this will be massively disrespectful to the membership who will have just given Corbyn a huge mandate.

There is a big difference between arguing against the party line on a point of principle and just causing mischief for the sake of it. True that Corbyn was a serial rebel, but he always respected the party and generally his rebellions were on issues backed by a significant number of the membership.

In these 30 or so constituencies with rogue MPs, members will have to ask themselves whether they really want to keep reselecting those who seem hell bent on ignoring their wishes and arrogantly not even acknowledging the members existence.

It will be difficult, but shaping the party into a strong democratic movement over the next two years will strengthen Labour's chances of electability.

Jez We Can.

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