Archive for the 'Labour' Category


Team Corbyn says he’ll carry on if the confidence motion goes against him but it will surely be the start of the end

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016


Labour MPs at Westminster are currently voting on the no confidence motion that was tabled last night. Voting finishes at 4pm and it’s expected that the result will be announced by 5pm.

The assumption is that he’s going to lose and the question will be what happens next. The motion itself is only advisory and Corbyn can just remain if he wants to.

The message from his team is that if his MPs want to oust him then then it will have to go to a new leadership election. That’s what they are saying now but it’s hard to see that being carried through for the next two months at such a critical time in British politics.

Just imagine the fun that Cameron will have at PMQ? How will Labour MPs react? We saw yesterday Corbyn being booed in the Commons by some of his own MPs.

Carrying on in such circumstance is going to be very difficult. In the end this is about perceptions of competence within the party and the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush is saying that this is not what it was. He highlights the recent Vice News which Bush says seems to have caused more damage than anything else.

Update from my Twitter feed

Mike Smithson


Cameron is going, Johnson has been in hiding and Labour faces civil war. So who will lead Britain?

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Dave Quit

The country has voted for change but the future is unclear. Leadership is needed writes Keiran Pedley

Last Thursday’s Brexit vote was truly an historic event in our country’s history. The consequences for British politics will take time to play out. Right now the country is tense. Since David Cameron’s resignation Friday morning there is a political vacuum at the heart of power and sense of uncertainty in the air. Only a fool would predict with any degree of certainty what happens next.

No turning back

However, it is probably best to conclude that we are indeed leaving the EU. That ‘out means out’. Some on the Remain side have sought to challenge the referendum result. David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, has suggested that parliament should overturn the result. A petition to rerun the referendum itself has cleared 3 million signatures and counting. Clearly for some accepting the result is proving difficult.

But they should accept it. EU leaders have and they are demanding a swift divorce. Almost 17.5 million voters backed leaving the EU last Thursday – a million plus more than backed Remain – at a turnout of 72% (eclipsing the 66% turnout at last year’s General Election).  Remainers may justifiably be angry at some of the tactics used by the Leave campaign. However, voters have clearly delivered a message that they want change and that mandate has to be respected. Suggestions that Leave voters represent the ‘lizard brain of Britain’ are patronising and unhelpful. The voters have made their feelings known. All efforts now should be focused on what comes next rather than rerunning last Thursday’s referendum. We have to move on.

Enter Johnson (or May)?

How successfully we do so will depend on who becomes the next Prime Minister and the deal they can deliver. The early signs are that Boris Johnson is favourite. Having led the Leave side to victory and seemingly won the backing of Michael Gove he will take some stopping. However, the former Mayor of London does face significant challenges. He now needs to come up with a coherent vision of what Brexit looks like that satisfies Leave voters and wins over Tory MPs. If he doesn’t, Theresa May could yet emerge as an alternative unifying ‘safe pair of hands’. He may even end up challenged from his Right. The odds are in Johnson’s favour but he does have serious questions to answer on free movement and the common market – questions we can only assume he has been carefully considering during his period of silence this weekend.

Labour in meltdown

Meanwhile the Labour Party faces its own existential crisis. One of the striking features of the Brexit vote was how vast swathes of so-called Labour heartlands ignored the party line and voted Leave. Staunch Labour areas in Wales, Yorkshire and the North-East overwhelmingly backed Brexit. This trend was aptly demonstrated in Ed Miliband’s Doncaster where 69% voted Leave. The truth though is that this trend was seen all across the country in Labour areas.

Some Labour MPs now fear that the party could face a post-Brexit wipe-out in these areas much like the party experienced in Scotland last May. This has led to a concerted effort to remove Jeremy Corbyn as leader over the weekend, with a series of coordinated resignations designed to force him to resign. The plan being to replace him with a unifying figure that can carry the party into the General Election that is assumed to be coming soon. Time will tell if this coup attempt is successful. The loyalty of Corbyn’s support among party members will surely be crucial – though Labour MPs may hope to take the decision out of their hands. Depending on what happens next, Labour could end up in government or facing oblivion and we cannot be sure which.

Who will lead Britain?

In the meantime, the country faces a worrying vacuum in political leadership. One can only hope that it is filled soon. Whoever leads the UK out of Europe faces a daunting to-do list. Voters have clearly voted for changes in immigration policy but what changes and can they be delivered without leaving the single market and the economic challenges that would bring? More importantly, how does the next Prime Minister keep the UK together when Scotland and Northern Ireland voted Remain and Wales and England voted Leave? Moreover, how can we bring those voting Remain and Leave together when they have such different visions of the country’s future? Can we avoid descending further and further into the bitter and divisive politics that were such an unpleasant hallmark of the referendum campaign?  These are tough questions without even considering the inevitable ‘unknown unknowns’ that governments so often face.

Perhaps these seemingly conflicting objectives are impossible to achieve. Choices will have to be made. In which case the next 2-3 years will be some of the most rancorous and turbulent in post war British political history. However, let’s close on a more optimistic note. This uncertainty won’t last forever and our country has faced major crises before and come through the other side. It is possible that the shock of last Thursday is bringing undue panic. That a recession can be avoided. We will do a deal with the EU. This country does have a future. It is possible that a unifying leader may yet emerge and lead the country through this difficult time. In short, Brexit doesn’t have to mean disaster.

Nevertheless, it would be foolish to ignore the scale of the challenge our country faces in the coming weeks, months and years – let’s hope that the current generation of political leaders is up to the task.

Keiran Pedley presents the / Polling Matters show and tweets about politics at @keiranpedley


Might Balls be Labour’s answer at 100/1?

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Will one of Labour’s Big Beasts return and run?

As the extraordinary episode in Labour’s history that is Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership enters what looks like a chaotic death-throw, eyes and minds inevitably turn to what – and who – comes next.

Various names have been suggested: Watson, Benn, MacDonnell, Jarvis, Nandy and others. Some have ruled themselves out but with events so fluid, I’d be inclined not to take any such statement too categorically.

None of those names comes without serious shortcomings. Some are of the same wing of the party as Corbyn and even if more competent as a leader, will struggle to connect with the crucial swing voters. Others have the opposite problem and are viewed with at best deep suspicion by many of the members and supporters who propelled Corbyn to victory last year. Many are untried and untested. Others have been tried and have been found to be lightweight.

So in such circumstances, might Labour look to a King over the Water? The name of Ed Miliband was tipped by Alastair Meeks some months ago but what of an arguably even more improbable option, the other Ed: Ed Balls?

Critics might point to the apparently insuperable problem that he’s not an MP (and indeed, he appears to be enjoying life outside Westminster). All true. However, these are extraordinary times. That David Miliband – also a non-MP – is as short as 6/1 and no longer than 12/1 as next Labour leader tells you that. Those odds are, however, strongly to be avoided.

Why might Balls be different? Firstly, his odds at 100/1 are quite literally a different order of magnitude but in terms of merit, Balls landed blows on the coalition government. He was an effective opposition front bencher and after a year of the precise opposite, Labour might be a bit more inclined to someone with a track record there. Whether he still has the fire for that fight is one question that does admittedly need to be asked.

The hurdle of being outside Westminster? There is of course the Batley & Spen by-election coming up. Balls was MP just down the road in Morley & Outwood prior to the election and while he wasn’t a great constituency MP, he knows the area well enough. It’s not a rock-solidly safe Labour seat but that won’t matter for the by-election. The opportunity is there should he want it and be allowed it through the selection process. Were a ‘Draft Balls’ campaign to gather momentum, the process is there to enable his eligibility for nomination.

I grant that it’s not likely. There are any number of things that could trip the scenario up. However, if Balls were in parliament now, he would undoubtedly be being talked of in the first sentence as a potential replacement for Corbyn. And he wouldn’t be the first long shot to come in these last 18 months.

David Herdson


David Herdson says the post-Corbyn chapter opens

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

For once, Labour might actually be doing a coup properly

Jeremy Corbyn has never been loved as leader by the Labour MPs. He didn’t have enough support to be nominated without the horribly misguided nominations of backers of other candidates, he’s neither looked nor acted like a leader once in place, and he’s never sought to reconcile the gap between his personal mandate in the party and his lack of one in parliament. Those shortcomings will now be fatal.

Corbyn had no choice but to sack Benn, though in all probability he only pre-empted Benn’s departure from the Shadow Cabinet by a matter of hours: the Shadow Foreign Secretary could not have remained in it once it was known that he was complicit in a plot to oust Corbyn. What’s now clear is that not only have those shadow ministers who joined in an attempt to create a unified team between the Corbynites and the mainstream failed but that they recognise it and are prepared to act.

So far (at the time of writing), Hilary Benn and Heidi Alexander are the only two confirmed departures. Which others will follow is the next key question. I imagine that top of the list of members that journalists will be currently scrambling to contact will be Andy Burnham, who has been about as visible as George Osborne since Thursday. A declaration there either way will give a good pointer as to where the careerist wing sees their interests as heading (though I expect he’ll do everything possible to avoid making comment).

Corbyn now faces three immense hurdles if he’s to hold on. I do not believe that he can clear all three and it’s quite possible he won’t try. They are:

Firstly, he needs to see out this day. In one sense, all he needs to do is exhibit serene fortitude. Front benchers can be replaced (probably) and storms can be ridden out. In another, this storm will be like no other which he’s faced, nor any other I can think of which any other party leader has survived. But then Corbyn is a leader like no other.

Secondly, he needs to survive the No Confidence motion which will presumably be voted on by the PLP on Tuesday if events haven’t intervened before then. If it does go that far, he’ll probably lose. Technically, that vote is only advisory – it carries no constitutional weight within the Labour rule book – but that’s like saying that the Brexit vote was advisory: you’d need to be David Lammy to think that you could credibly ignore it. (It is ironic that what will finally bring Corbyn down is his being closer to the Labour voters than the MPs).

But if he does survive or more likely, ignore events within parliament, Labour is now in a position from which a formal leadership challenge can be launched. There hasn’t been one of these since 1988, when Benn snr challenged Neil Kinnock and lost by more than 7:1. By another irony, it’s Benn’s son who is now best-placed to challenge his one-time colleague.

The problem up until now was that unlike with the Tories, there was no mechanism by which a Labour leader could be forced out without electing someone else at the same time – and the realistic alternatives were within the shadow cabinet so wouldn’t allow their names to be nominated. No longer. If push comes to shove, there is now the candidate, mechanism, support and moment for such a bid to be launched.

Push probably won’t come to shove. Corbyn must know now that the game is up to such an extent that his continuing in office would damage the causes he believes in. He – and by extension, they – would become a laughing stock if two-thirds or more of the PLP were beyond the whip. I don’t see how he can last the week. I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t last the day.

As for who will replace him, Watson seems best-placed. If Corbyn does resign, Watson would act as leader which would give him the chance to impress in office at a time when he would not be overshadowed by his predecessor. He’d also have the advantage of being seen to be a unifying candidate. Of the others, Benn has clearly shown leadership capabilities but I suspect his actions have damaged him too much in the eyes of too many. MacDonnell has already ruled himself out but I can’t see there not being a full-on continuity-Corbyn candidate: after all, it’s not the policies of the leader which have brought about his downfall. The Shadow Chancellor may yet be persuaded; if not, a protege is likely. And similarly, after ousting Corbyn, the mainstream must nominate one of their own unless they’re willing to forego that privilege and swing in behind Watson in a stop-the-left move. For now, it’s advantage Deputy.

David Herdson


A very British coup as another shadow cabinet minister resigns, and more are expected

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

What odds on an autumn election with May and Watson leading their parties?

What an interesting few hours where Labour are trying to look even more split than the Tory party, but I do think the plotters inside the  Labour party are doing the right thing, I’ve said many times Jeremy Corbyn will lead Labour to an epochal defeat at a general election, whereas someone vaguely electable might actually defeat the Tories at the next general election. As I speculated last night this appears co-ordinated, with Shadow Health Secretary, Heidi Alexander, quitting this morning, with more expected to follow.

If Allegra Stratton’s tweets are correct, the best option should be to back Tom Watson as next Labour leader at 8/1, my only concern is if there’s an effective unilateral declaration of independence by the Parliamentary Labour Party then Tom Watson won’t be leader of the Labour party, but leader of a new Labour party.

The other impact from these events is that it might change the dynamics of the Tory leadership contest. There’s been a belief that whomever the Tories elect they win a general election against Jeremy Corbyn, so they might choose someone with gravitas and experience. Which doesn’t help Boris Johnson but does help Theresa May, who you can still back at 3/1 as next Tory leader, or you might consider like the many mistresses of Boris, should you be laying him?




Is this the start of the Saturday night/Sunday morning massacre by Corbyn?

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

From this I’m concluding a coup is being implemented by the opponents of Corbyn and how long will the reshuffle take ?



Looks like Labour MPs have been reading their Macbeth. If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly.

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Corbyn Bling

Following on from last week’s reports about the plans to topple Corbyn, The Telegraph are reporting

Labour rebels believe they can topple Jeremy Corbyn after the EU referendum in a 24-hour blitz by jumping on a media storm of his own making.

Moderate MPs who believe Mr Corbyn can never win back power think his failure to close down public rows which flare up and dominate the news channels leaves him vulnerable.

By fanning the flames with front bench resignations and public criticism they think the signatures needed to trigger a leadership race can be gathered within a day.

They see the tactic as a way of securing public support for the move while targeting what is perceived as one of the Labour leader’s major flaws – indecision.

To paraphrase Bucks Fizz the anti-Corbyn MPs are hoping his indecision takes his leadership from him, but whilst Corbyn retains the support of the membership, Labour MPs are living in The Land Of Make Believe if they think they will topple him. Until we see polling that the membership won’t re-elect Corbyn, Labour MPs would be wise to delay any plans to topple Corbyn.



As Andy Burnham speaks about the very real prospect of Brexit, Corbyn should be worried

Friday, June 10th, 2016

When Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary says ‘The Remain campaign is facing the “very real prospect” of defeat in the referendum in two weeks’ time as it fails to reach traditional Labour voters’ it is clear the Remain campaign has issues. Whilst it is clear in the event of Leave winning, David Cameron will voluntarily resign or the Tory Party will revert back to Papua New Guinea-style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing, Brexit might also see Jeremy Corbyn toppled as well. George Eaton of The New Statesman writes

Should the UK vote to leave the EU, it is David Cameron’s leadership which most believe would soon be over. But his fellow Remainer, Jeremy Corbyn, also has cause to look nervously over his shoulder

“It would be the trigger for some kind of move against him,” a Labour MP said of an Out vote, a view shared by a significant number of anti-Corbynites. “The time for dithering would finally be over,” another told me.

As the spectre of Brexit haunts their days and nights (“pretty petrified” is how an MP described the mood), the Labour leader’s opponents are preparing to pin the blame on what they regard as his “half-hearted” approach. One told me: “Jeremy will have to take responsibility in the event of a Leave vote because up until now he hasn’t shown the leadership we need. Many Labour voters still don’t know the party’s position.”

Corbyn, who was agnostic about EU membership as recently as last summer, has committed to Remain, delivering several speeches on the subject. But he is accused of devoting insufficient attention to the campaign. A former shadow cabinet minister told me “ A leadership team needs to be strategic and treat it like a national election. It’s not being treated like a national election. They’re just going through the motions.

I have my doubts that Labour will topple Corbyn before 2020, the polling shows were a leadership contest triggered, Corbyn would still win, possibly with an ever larger mandate than last time, anti-Corbyn Labour MPs are very good at talking the talk, but not so good at walking the walk, but a new Tory leader and talk of an early general election might focus minds.

In light of the mood music, I’m not backing Corbyn going in 2016, I think the best course of action is to take the 11/4 Coral are offering on Leave winning the referendum. Leave are better than the circa 27% chance the bookies implies.