Update: Labour supporter Ben points out a problem with this plan: a sitting Labour leader doesn’t need the nominations. in that case, there’s one extra step. Mainstream Labour would need the NEC to meet at once and change the leadership rules so that a sitting Labour leader would also need 35 nominations. At the same time they should ditch the ‘£3 to hijack our party’ rules. Then Beckett could stand.
OK, after all the journalism on Corbyn and his racist, homophobic and ‘every dead British soldier is a victory’ frends / parliamentary guests, I thought it might be fun to just speculate a little on the politics of a Corbyn victory.
Politically, Corbyn is making big mistakes. He hasn’t seemed to realise that after this ballot he reverts to being at the power of the PLP. First Corbyn said he’d allow election to Shadow Cabinet; then he reneged; then he threatened Labour MPs and councillors with deselection mechanisms.
What do you expect from a fan of Putin and Iran?
Only 15 Labour MPs support Corbyn. He has 100 Shadow Ministerial posts to fill. He won’t get close. Let’s say it’s Transport questions. At best there will be one person at the dispatch box to question all the ministers. It just won’t work. At PMQs Labour MPs will be silent or even agree with Tories when they have a pop at Corbyn.
Meanwhile the voting public will recoil at the sight of the jubilant hard left, new-minted ‘Labour affiliates’, on the streets shouting for nuclear disarmament, deals with Russia and terrorists in Parliament and hurling ugly hatred at Jews (sorry ‘zionists’). Labour itself will be tainted. It would be as if Militant Tendency beat Neil Kinnock. Cameron will have 15 point poll leads and a totally free hand.
Labour MPs can stop this of course, but only if they break the habit of a lifetime and get together to do something quickly. The best way is to do it immediately. It is simple. 47 Labour MPs can trigger a fresh contest but they must nominate one person. The following Labour MPs should do this. 1. All those who made the mistake of nominating Corbyn when they didn’t want him to win. 2. Labour MPs who plan to retire anyway in 2020 – the party’s elder statesmen. 3 anybody brave/sensible – in five years nobody will care who was on that renominating list.
But wouldn’t the nominated MP then face anger from the party? Sure. That is why an MP should lead this effort saying that they will put themselves up for election but not really campaign. In other words they’d accept this nomination but not try to win the process it would trigger. A stalking horse.
And the ‘Save Labour’ paper candidate I like best could be Margaret Beckett.
She went on TV and agreed with John McTernan that it was a mistake by those who, like herself, had nominated Corbyn to give the party a ‘debate’ whilst hoping he’d lose. She is a respected former Acting Leader of the Labour Party and Foreign Secretary. She likely might retire next time anyway. Beckett would receive a hero’s welcome from Labour MPs and the sensible party for doing this. She would in point of fact write herself into the history books with a selfless act of political bravery.
In a fresh contest Corbyn wouldn’t come close the MP nominating threshold and wouldn’t be a candidate.
The option Labour MPs normally take is to wring their hands and do ‘wait and see’. Learn from Brown and Miliband, two successive candidates who you guys followed into disaster. The general public think MPs must be an organized bunch because ministers seem well-briefed. That’s because of the clerks, Spads and staff. One of the great secrets of political life is that MPs are just sitting there going ‘ooh God what do we do.’
This is what they should do. They should act right away. Current party rules state that if not before this year’s conference then Corbyn can be in place for a year. That would be a political disaster for Labour but it would also be immoral. The party of Bevan and Attlee should not allow a man who openly consorts with known anti-Semites to stand at the despatch box as its leader. Rarely in politics do you have a moral over a political choice. As a Tory, Jeremy Corbyn would be a dream leader, hence my twibbon. It was the discovery he’d donated to a Holocaust denier that shocked me out of it. Yes, Corbyn Labour = Tory landslide but I don’t want victory at any price.
Corbyn is politically harmless. If Labour MPs do nothing (again) he won’t be able to impose all his bonkers ideas on the party. However he could pack the NEC and strip Labour MPs of their seats, kick moderate councillors out. Ideologically however he will say nasty things about the Labour movement to the wider public AND he will tell the electorate that Labour MPs who think Corbyn is a disaster and immoral don’t have the courage to act.
47 MPs need to get together now, privately, get a stalking horse candidate (Margaret Beckett if she will serve) and announce a challenge the second Jeremy Corbyn is elected by this tainted electorate of entryists. Beckett should brief now that she is willing to do it.
Labour MPs who really want the leadership job would be afraid to strike Corbyn, as the old political maxim is ‘He who wields the knife never wears the crown’ (ask Heseltine). Therefore an outsider must do it. History calls another Margaret, this time to save the reds. She – or somebody else – should precipitate a second contest, if called for.