Wednesday, 12 August 2015

The Labour Establishment Plot to Stop Corbyn

As the latest YouGov Labour leadership election poll spreads panic through the Labour party right wing establishment, a picture is emerging on how they intend to fight back against the MP for Islington north. The poll shows Corbyn as having a big lead in all voting constituencies (members, union affiliates and £3 supporters).

Failing Corbyn’s body being found in a side street near Finsbury Park tube station (joke), an attempt will be made to destabilise his leadership and eventually to depose him.

The first tactic was to have a parade of Labour party grandees appealing to members/supporters not to vote for him as his ‘left wing’ policies would be a disaster for the country and make Labour unelectable for a generation. Neil Kinnock, Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, Alan Johnson and now Alistair Campbell have all made this point through an eagerly compliant media. Labour right stalwarts working for this media (The Guardian in the main) have also weighed in with a similar message, Polly Toynbee, Martin Kettle, Rafael Behr for example with leader comments in the same vein. To be fair to The Guardian, there has been some balance, from Seamus Milne and Owen Jones principally.

When this tactic didn’t appear to work, a second line of defence had to be established. De-legitimise the ballot. Labour MP Barry Sheerman has called for the ballot to be ‘paused’ because the £3 supporter’s constituency has been infiltrated by the ‘hard left’ and Tories, wishing ill for the Labour party. He is not alone amongst Blairite MPs in seeking to de-legitimise the ballot, who ironically were the most insistent on introducing the ‘supporters’ to make it more like an open US ‘primary’, to reduce the influence of the unions.

This line was also trumpeted by Labour MP and supporter of rival for the leadership candidate Liz Kendall, Simon Danczuk. Danczuk goes even further in concluding that Labour MPs would have every right to depose Corbyn from ‘day one’ of his leadership of Labour. Labour peers may join the rebellion.

With only 47 MPs required to force another contest (presumably after changing the rules for the election) and probably only about 30 Labour MPs supporting Corbyn, this would not be a surprise.

The only problem with this is that Corbyn is ahead (according to the polls) in the Labour members section, so why would they vote differently so soon after electing Corbyn?

There would need to be a campaign of off the record ‘briefing’ against Corbyn by Labour MPs and I’m sure the media will be compliant in this. The tactic is well established when MPs feed information to journalists that is damaging to a political opponent, a slow drip, drip of stories of the ‘chaos’ in Corbyn’s leadership team etc.

No doubt some new Labour supporting business people can be found to tell the media how ‘anti-business’ Labour has become, which will cost jobs etc etc.

On top of this, many Labour MPs will refuse to join Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, leadership rivals Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper have already refused to do so. Corbyn may struggle to find enough MPs willing to cover all of the shadow ministerial positions.

And what if a large majority of MPs refuse to vote for Corbyn’s policies in the House of Commons, abstaining or voting with the Tory government? Corbyn’s own voting record and ‘loyalty’ to previous leaders will give them an excuse to rebel. It is doubtful that constituency parties will be able to force MPs to support Corbyn, if as is predicted there will be hundreds of them.

All of this would put a tremendous strain on Corbyn himself, and it will probably start to show. Stories about his health and age will start to surface in the press further undermining his position.

Once this story has run for a year or so, and presumably with Labour trailing in opinion polls, this is the time they will call for a new leadership contest, under new rules.

The danger would be that Corbyn wins again, but after all the bad news and turmoil in the party, I think he may lose.  

Isn’t democracy beautiful?    


  1. I don't have too much of a problem with JCs messages, but do wonder whether he's the right messenger, so if he does prove to be a disaster re the polls, maybe there'll a chance in the future for the GP to benefit. I find it very odd that no polling has been released about who would be the most popular candidate with the general public.

  2. Another scenario is the revitalisation of the Labour Party from below. If Corbyn can energise enough members it might be possible to roll back the centralisation of the party. Also given the naked ambition of many MP's its not entirely impossible that many will see the only chance of climbing the greasy pole will be the discovery of socialist beliefs only kept quiet in the interests of 'party unity'

  3. I saw an interview last night from Stella Creasey, candidate for LP deputy leader of course, at first seeming to want to ingratiate herself by suggesting she had 'left-wing credentials' in terms of support for the co-operative movement, but then giving the usual bull about the UK needing Trident because of the 'threats we might face'. My concern is that if JC does actually win, which I still doubt sadly, and proves to be a disaster in the opinion polls, the 'narrative' will be that electoral success for the Left is an impossibility and therefore that trying is a waste of time, in which case it will probably be up to the GP to try to carry the 'baton'.

  4. You are taking a very optimistic view Philip, but you may be right. Alistair - yes I think you are right about it being impossible etc - that is what they are saying now. This would be good for Greens though because things are changing.