Labour’s leadership got two-thirds of its voters to back Remain in the EU referendum, versus little better than 40% for the Tories. It is the latter who were in disarray - but only up to the small hours of this morning. Yes, with the prospect of a snap General Election following the selection of a new Tory leader, the realisation has come that Jeremy Corbyn may not be the man to take the opportunity to wrest power back for The Red Team.
Jezza is agreeable, knowledgeable, principled and sincere - but he is perceived not to have the ability to convince, to win over those who need to be won over in order to assemble that coalition of voters that gets his party over the win line. The membership got him The Top Job: the problem from the start, as I pointed out back in December, is that the Parliamentary Party does not want him there.
As in December, the catalyst has been the behaviour of shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn: last night, he was found to be possibly fomenting opposition to his party leader. When challenged by Corbyn, he conceded that he had no confidence in Jezza, who promptly sacked him. By that act, Benn became the figurehead around whom the rest of the shadow cabinet rebels could gather - although he will not be Corbyn’s replacement.
And then came the others: shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander has resigned, Tristram Hunt has added his voice to the dissent, Labour’s only Scottish MP Ian Murray has stepped down as shadow Scottish Secretary, Stephen Kinnock has called for a leader who can bring “National Unity” (ie someone else), and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones has said Corbyn has to go. There will be others.
Benn then went on The Andy Marr Show (tm) to tell viewers that Corbyn “is a good and decent man but not a leader”. But who might stand for the leadership, perhaps against the man who all these MPs are trying to depose? Benn told Marr he was not going to be a candidate. Andy Burnham, having put himself forward - unsuccessfully - twice, is now devoting his efforts towards becoming the new Greater Manchester Mayor.
Yvette Cooper has previously stood, but whether she would command the confidence of the membership in the way that Corbyn did is doubtful. Other names are being floated, but shadow Chancellor John McDonnell will not be one of them. Here on Zelo Street, the gaze is being trained on Glastonbury, where Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson has been away from it all and keeping an unusually low profile. His actions will be key.
But whatever happens, the only way for Labour to escape a bloodbath is for Corbyn to bow to the inevitable, and go. Yes, he got the members’ mandate. So did Iain Duncan Smith for the Tories, and his MPs eventually wouldn’t work with him, either. He’s a decent bloke, he’s not flash or showy, but he is not cutting the mustard. This has been welling up for several months, and now he has to face reality.
For the sake of the party he loves, Jeremy Corbyn must sacrifice his leadership. It’s over.