After the mass resignations from the Shadow Cabinet, the stand-off, the negotiations, the variously informed leaking of information and the unedifying spectacle for the voting public, there has been a declaration from Wallasey MP Angela Eagle that she will challenge Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership. Some on the left are scornful at Ms Eagle; others wonder what she hopes to achieve. Here is an outsider’s take on it all.
The breaking-off of talks by deputy leader Tom Watson is key. Watson was in discussion with Len McCluskey, head man at Unite The Union, last week until those talks were suddenly called off. My interpretation is that Watson felt he no longer needed to continue the discussions. That suggests the real reason Ms Eagle is standing is to test the hypothesis that Corbyn will have to secure nominations to get on the ballot.
Neil Kinnock’s intervention bears close examination. Kinnock stressed, both during an interview on The Andy Marr Show (tm) and at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), that the leader must enjoy the confidence of the party’s MPs. Most of those MPs have expressed a lack of confidence in Corbyn’s leadership. This confirms that the approach of those opposed to Corbyn is to force him to secure nominations from MPs.
The party’s rules on leadership challenges have not been drafted well. I defer at this point to the analysis of David Allen Green, who has examined the rules, and concluded “applying rule of fairness, and looking at clause [in rulebook] as whole, I can't see anything which means incumbent given advantage re nominees … There is room for dispute, views will differ. But IMO, more likely than not that a court would hold Corbyn needs same nominations [as other nominees][my emphasis]”.
He goes on to say “In essence: Corbyn would need to convince a court that Rule Book gives incumbent unfair advantage, when principle in Rule Book is fairness … The courts will expect all candidates to be treated equally; will be uphill battle for Corbyn to convince court differently … Delicious irony that Corbyn will be going to court, in effect, to assert a private law privilege, in breach of principle of equality”.
Angela Eagle would not be the only challenger. Once, as seems likely, it is decreed that Corbyn must secure nominations from MPs and MEPs, then other names will be put forward. Owen Smith is one such. But here a problem enters: many new members have joined Labour recently out of support for the current leadership.
The ultimate challenge is to head off a membership revolt. Labour now has a total membership of well over half a million people. The prize for any new leader is retaining and then mobilising them to campaign for the party. The only way to avoid a mass walk-out of members would be for Corbyn to give a leadership challenger his blessing.
Corbyn would probably not endorse any of the resigners. That narrows down considerably the number of credible leadership candidates who would have a chance of holding both the Parliamentary party and the membership together. My list of those candidates has only one name on it. But there is, of course, an alternative.
That is a split in the party. And we all know what happened last time there was one.
Here's some legal advice you might want to take a look at, particularly the consequences in general if the wording intended that an incumbent also need 20% of the vote to stand.
In short, if this is Watson's game, he's fucked up. Pg 20 onwards if you don#t want to scroll through it all.
A quick read of the rule book suggests that if Jeremy resigns then he would only need 12.5% of the PLP to nominate him as the leader's post would be vacant. A gamble that might be worth taking?
An anti-Corbyn QC is strongly of the opinion that Corbyn can't be excluded from ballot - see http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/elections/2015/11/could-labours-rule-book-be-used-keep-jeremy-corbyn-leadership-ballot
More 'pre-news' this weekend from the BBC:
As JC was addressing a huge and appreciative crowd at the Durham Miners' Gala, "news" emerged that Angela Eagle was planning to make her leadership stand...on Monday.
Internal Labour Party politics aside, as an outside spectator, I detect yet another smell of orchestrated PR spin and collision from certain influential elements within BBC news.
Why didn't the BBC wait until this was actual news, a firm announcement on Monday. Laura K has already got form form reporting on Angela Eagle's decision to challenge - then didn't. Then to wait so that JC "does the right thing". Again, more examples of "pre-news" eminating from experienced spin doctors (the same who brought us the "dodgy dossier"?)
This weekend saw the BBC collaborate in a shoddy attempt to spoke JC's powerful speech to the Durham Miners' Gala.
Such bias must go against the BBC Charter
The requirement that Corbyn needs 51 nominations to stand is the only real safeguard that stops Dacre, Murdoch, Lynton Crosby & all their supporters from 'voting' Jeremy back in.
Talk of "fairness" and far right sophist New Labour bullshit:
How "fair" is it that fewer than 180 individuals can defy the wishes of the majority of over 500,000 members?
How "fair" is it those individuals hide behind lawyerly bullshit and not enter an open election (which Jeremy Corbyn would undoubtedly win)?
How "fair" is it those same individuals policies were routed in two elections and now say Corbyn is "unelectable"?
How "fair" is it those same individuals voted for an illegal war which mass murdered many tens of thousands of innocent people?
How "fair" is it those same individuals were in government during the beginning of the greatest depression since the 1930s and now claim economic "expertise"?
If this leads to a split in the party, so what? Bring it on, I say......finally get rid of the New Labour traitors. Recover the moral prestige of the Labour Party and its original principles. The last time this opportunity arose was when Rogers, Williams, Jenkins and Owen ran away to obscurity, but the chance was thrown away when Blair lied his way to power and betrayal (at a time when a monkey could have defeated the tories). Now we face the same kind of mindset, the type that jeered its way to power and now won't stand aside though told democratically that they are the minority. There are no depths these people will not plumb, no amount of lying bullshit they won't manufacture. Which is why the Labour Party is better off without them. What use is power if it is fronted by bitter people who have demonstrated they are neither capable or democratic and who will shovel yet more tory misery on top of the thieving they have already helped administer?
Nor should anybody expect "fairness" from mainstream media who are overwhelmingly far right liars and propagandists.
Long term, this country will either make an organised attempt to restore decency or it will sink into even worse thieving and warmongering manufactured by the likes of New Labour and its tory associates. Time is now running short.
Anybody who thinks Eagle and Field, both nominal Wirral MPs, should be regarded as honest, democratic and decent......Well, read this:
That's how New Labour have always operated. Which is why they will always be reviled by anybody who loves democracy and social cohesion.
Let's not forget, too, it is THEY who have split the Labour Party, THEY who have tried sabotage what's left of decency in public life.
As an outsider I can see the problem for those who regard the "right" of the Party as traitors.
Our electoral system means that the electorate vote MPs into Parliament ie, a democratic vote. Once these MPs are into Parliament they need to a leader to represent them as such. It is no good having a leader who doesn't command the respect of the majority of MPs in that Party as the "leader" is no longer leading.
Those complaining of lack of democracy are really complaining about different levels of democracy. That is why I believe that the OMOV for Party leader is totally dysfunctional. The Tories are going to have the same problem if Leadsom gets the Party members vote yet the democratically elected MPs may have to work with someone they cannot respect as leader.
It is an invidious position for both Parties and if a pragmatic compromise cannot be reached it may be in the best interests for both of them to split into separate entities as the antagonism will rankle in the minds of the losers for some considerable time causing the problems the Tories have had over Europe since joining the Common Market.
Perhaps we could then get back to serious debates over problems faced rather than the we right you wrong slanging matches we have now which only our decrepit media get anything out of.
"The requirement that Corbyn needs 51 nominations to stand is the only real safeguard that stops Dacre, Murdoch, Lynton Crosby & all their supporters from 'voting' Jeremy back in. "
I really don't think that the vast majority of the new joiners are right wing entryists. Remember that Corbyn would have won last years election even excluding the £3 votes.
That said, I'm not entirely sure that most of the PLP do think that the increase in membership is a good thing: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Cm2zmcfW8AIzGqs.jpg:large
Here are my thoughts on the LP rule book, plus Carl Gardner's. Carl's views on Corbyn are diametrically opposed to mine, so it's interesting that both posts come to the same basic conclusion - the rules don't say that the incumbent needs to seek nominations, & shouldn't be read as if they do. (Carl does, however, point out that the rulebook gives the NEC the power to alter the rules, which could allow for all kinds of wackiness.)
Very interesting how Tom Watson cut short his discussions with the unions. Almost as if he had some personal knowledge and confidence about what may happen with the NEC this week.
The R4 today discussion this morning disproportionally concentrated on the legal interpretations of the rulebook. The focus on a rather skewed legal argument reminded me of the dodgy "imminent threat" of WMDs in 2003. The "45 minute" meme was a classic spin tactic that avoided the substantive issue and concentrated on policy based evidence making.
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