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Sunday, 21 August 2016

Sadiq Knifes Jezza

Those Labour supporters who have stuck with Jeremy Corbyn through all the twists and turns of his leadership have woken to see unwelcome news: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, the party’s most senior elected member, has declared in an article for the Observer that he will back Owen Smith in the upcoming leadership contest. Khan has also urged all Labour members to ditch Corbyn, whom he considers unelectable.
The timing of Khan’s intervention is not an accident: ballot papers are being sent out to party members this week. And those who have rubbished calls to drop Corbyn from the likes of Neil Kinnock and Ed Miliband by sneeringly dismissing them as “losers” cannot do so with the London Mayor, who won election in the teeth of a vicious Tory smear campaign and a mainly hostile press. Sadiq Khan is a winner.

So what would the reaction be? Would Labour members take on board Mike Smithson’s observations? The pollster observed “Last September 251,417 people voted for Corbyn as LAB leader … In May 1,310,143 voted for Khan as London Mayor” and also looked at the London election numbers, concluding “LAB's Mayoral vote went up in May while Assembly vote down. Sadiq’s victory was his not Corbyn’s”.
Would all those Corbyn supporters take that on board, that Khan had a larger mandate, and from the wider electorate? Would they agree that it was his victory, and the party’s, rather than any conscious endorsement of Jezza? Well, no they wouldn’t: the instant response has been to claim that Corbyn was responsible for Khan’s victory, partly because of all those Labour members tramping the streets for him.

But that assumes Labour members are some kind of Corbyn Praetorian Guard, which they most certainly are not. They may have equally been enthused by Khan’s campaign, or a desire to push back against the barrage of Tory smears. The uncomfortable fact for Corbyn backers is that Sadiq Khan actively distanced himself from the leadership.
Some outside the Labour Party have tried to push the line that Khan nominated Corbyn for the Labour leadership, and that this means he had supported him. But Khan was quite clear at the time that his purpose in nominating Corbyn was to broaden the range of candidates. He did not think that Jezza could win a General Election as leader, and he would not be voting for him. Today’s intervention is therefore significant.

What it does not mean is that Owen Smith has become a more credible or convincing candidate as a result - and therein lies Corbyn’s likely salvation. But he now knows that he cannot count on the support of at least one big city Mayor in the future - and if Khan makes a decent fist of the London Mayoralty, he’ll run again, and win again.

I would ask all those Corbyn supporters today to do two things: One, remember that Sadiq Khan is your party’s biggest winner for over a decade, and Two, listen to him and don’t rush to dole out the dismissiveness and abuse. Give him a hearing. That is all.

14 comments:

savernake said...

Khan has always been quite open about his opposition to Corbyn's leadership so there is nothing surprising about his article. He has always been a Blair-ite. (I'm not a Londoner and have not been following it that closely, but I'm at a loss to remember anything Khan has done since he won office. Transport? Housing?)

Mike Smithson is a failing asset. He got the 2010 election right but failed miserably on both the 2015 election and the referendum. In my view he is increasingly allowing his personnal emotions and views to predominate over his betting calculations. He is very bitter about the collapse of the Lib-Dems.

Anonymous said...

Khan? Many who campaigned / canvassed for him were Corbyn supporters who are appalled by his actions now.

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/devolution/2016/05/victory-london-was-jeremy-corbyn-s-not-sadiq-khan-s

Anonymous said...

Well, no they wouldn’t: the instant response has been to claim that Corbyn was responsible for Khan’s victory,

You then go on to give incorrect reasons for this response. John Curtice, king of the polls, wrote a piece last May in which he analysed the results, and it is this piece that points to the win in London being at least equally due to Corbyn as it was to Khan himself.

I'm in a rush, so I will leave it up to you, or to interested readers, to find the piece itself. It is out there.

john riches said...

I'll give Khan a hearing, and have read the article. Some of it is fair comment, though the stuff about Europe is rubbish -Corbyn wasn't 'confused' about the EU, he was ambivalent, which reflected many, hence his success in getting out the Labour vote compared to the other leaders.

However, what Khan doesn't address is why Owen is more electable. I've asked Smith, and many of his supporters via social media, BTL on loads of sites and articles, and I never get an answer. It evidently isn't about policies, so I've been searching for exactly what it is that makes him an improvement. The only evidence I've seen for when the public see Corbyn and Smith together is the Victoria Derbyshire show, and that didn't go well for the latter.

And yet Khan has repeated it, but with no substantive reasoning, again.

Tim, with your more substantial media presence, can you ask? I really am genuinely interested to know.

Papawallah said...

OK, I've listened to what Khan has to say. I'm so glad most of the electorate saw sense and voted for him, given the most threatening alternative on offer.
The Labour leadership contest is of a different order. I shall be voting for Corbyn, for the hope of a new and healing way of doing politics; more incusively, collaboratively and with a wider view towards equality, peace and doing less damage to the planet.
If it takes more time than the run up to GE2020 and Corbyn loses, i'll still be rooting for the values Corbyn is attempting to set down against all the knives and brickbats.

Oscar James said...

Not sure how the vote for a London mayor translates into a countrywide general election vote. Comparing the two is a bit odd. People vote for their mayor for all sorts of reasons- quite apart from the fact that at least an equal number of eligible London voters didn't vote for anyone.
I know several Tories who couldn't stomach the notion of the Tory candidate for London mayor.

wildcat said...

He makes some valid points, but it is also quite fair to say that he was elected as London Mayor partly due to the fact that he was up against a Tory candidate who ran an openly racist, Islamophobic, muck raking smear filled hate campaign which rightly disgusted so many from across the political spectrum, nothing really to do with being pro or anti Corbyn. I'd like to think that in those circumstances the campaigners would have turned out to help whoever the Labour candidate was. I certainly would have.

The Rabbit in the Moon said...

Was gonna say what wild a said. You omitted that factor entirely from the analysis.

Anonymous said...

But Khan was quite clear at the time that his purpose in nominating Corbyn was to broaden the range of candidates. He did not think that Jezza could win a General Election as leader, and he would not be voting for him. -- I'm not really sure how Khan supporters think this is a point in his favour. Taken at face value (a bad idea with politicians, but anyway) it indicates that Mr Khan was not committed to any particular idea of leadership, was insincere in making his nomination, and was reckless as to the potential outcome -- and is now blaming the party membership for the result of his own actions.

LiamKav said...

" is also quite fair to say that he was elected as London Mayor partly due to the fact that he was up against a Tory candidate who ran an openly racist, Islamophobic, muck raking smear filled hate campaign which rightly disgusted so many from across the political spectrum, nothing really to do with being pro or anti Corbyn. I'd like to think that in those circumstances the campaigners would have turned out to help whoever the Labour candidate was.

That's true, and I'd also like to think that someone running that sort of campaign would turn off many honest and rational voters. Except... the Brexit campaign was largely run on an openly racist platform full of lies and scare tactics, and they won.

(I know that London voted to Remain, and that London voted for Kahn. There's probably a message here about how what works in London doesn't necessarily work for the rest of the UK, but I'm not sure what it is.)

Oscar James said...

A very important point missed here is that Khan is relatively new in his role of Mayor and is yet to do anything to excite the electorate who voted for him. If the GE is still under 4 years away or even a year Khan may well be on the nose by then- or he may have performed brilliantly.

This reeks of Khan being opportunistic and cruising in a vote while Labour with a new leader carried some optimistic hope (the 'coup' hadn't started although was obviously being plotted) and a significant dislike of Johnson across all party supporters.

So I've 'listened' to Khan and I'm disappointed with him. Another Blairite opportunist who seems like he may be a do-nothing Mayor. I hope I'm wrong.

LiamKav said...

According to YouGov, back in April Khan was rated +30 by Londoners. Corbyn was rated -7. I'm still not convinced by the "Corbyn helped Khan win" argument.

Steve Rogers said...

True, Khan is a much better man than Boris, and Zac also showed himself unworthy. And I will listen to what he has to say. But so far everything he's said has been more of the same Blairite delusion that those who backed Brown and Miliband represent some mysterious kind of electability which doesn't involve actually winning elections. He has nothing new to add and should stick to looking after London.

Papawallah said...

(I'm adding to my entry above.)
What's going on with the Labour party right now isn't pretty. I rejoined fairly recently, not as a Corbyn supporter, but as a believer that only from within might I help to make Labour more amenable to working with a range of progressive politicians and 'parties' across the left-centre spectrum. In its present form it is hopelessly mired in its rules and monolithic stasis. I go to CLP meetings and, goodness help us, so much time is spent discussing edicts and rules from up the command chain, there seems to be no time or energy left for engaging in local issues and activism.
As it happens, I think Corbyn, if he's elected and Labour, after the Autumn Conference may become more amenable to tactical alliancing to form a dynamic and powerful opposition to the self-appointed 'natural party of government'.
If that proves not to be the case, or even likely, then I shall leave and invest my energy elsewhere.