Jeremy Corbyn will soon be gone – and then …

This has been the most tumultuous week in British politics in my lifetime. On a large turnout but by a small margin, the electorate voted for Britain to leave the European Union. I still can’t quite believe that this will happen but I have no idea how it will not.

Meanwhile political careers are falling like dead bodies. David Cameron expected to remain Prime Minister and has had to announce his resignation. Boris Johnson expected to become Prime Minister and will not even be a candidate for the Conservative Party leadership; and then there is Jeremy Corbyn …

I have never been a Corbyn supporter. As a Labour Party member, he was the bottom of the four candidates when I voted in the leadership election last summer. I expected him to be a disaster and so it has proved. He is not primarily to blame for the terrible Brexit decision (that would be Cameron) , but the verdict by Alan Johnson – my former boss at the CWU – is just the latest, if perhaps the most serious, of the many, many justifiable charges against him.

Seven months ago, I did a blog posting about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party entitled “The growing despair of a Labour loyalist”. It attracted a number of comments and, in response to one, I in turn commented:

“Corbyn was elected on the first ballot in a large turn out in a democratic party election. Labour MPs cannot – and dare not – ignore this mandate.

Whatever i think about Corbyn’s politics and policies, I think that he is an honourable man and that sooner or later he will realise that he is not the person to lead the Labour Party to victory and do the honourable thing.

When Corbyn was first elected, I thought that this process would take two or even three years before sanity prevailed. But, every week now, I fear that there is no way we can wait that long or that events will take that long.”

This week, over 60 Labour MPs have resigned from the Front Bench, but still Corbyn remains leader. The Parliamentary Labour Party carried a vote of no confidence in him by 172 votes to 40, but Corbyn is still there. Now Angela Eagle is on the verge of mounting a leadership challenge – and still he is there.

But I remain confident that my assessment of seven months ago holds true. He will step down – and soon. Then the real work of rebuilding the credibility of the Labour Party begins.


  • Alan Surtees

    I commented on your earlier blog, so I feel compelled to add something to this one. I believe that the Labour Party is about to split unless Corbyn steps down. His advisors and supporters are unable to accept that an unelectable political party has no prospect of power and hence, no real future. I fear that these shadowy figures which include trade union officials, have little interest in what happens to the country. They seem to be interested only in clinging on to an ideology which will never gain enough support from voters to make any real difference to people’s lives. They still have an important role to play in the Labour Party, but they must not control its main direction. At this time, there doesn’t seem to be anyone who can lead the party out of this existential crisis. There must be someone out in the country who isn’t part of this rift who can unite the party.

  • David Barry

    What I find really odd is that both the main parties have thrown away one of the advantages of a parliamentary system by adopting a method of election where the final say is in the hands of the members rather than the parliamentary party.

    Obviously where the candidate chosen by the members is also the choice of the MPs then no problem arises. However where you get a leader elected who starts on day one, not having been supported by a majority of the MPs, then they are at a disadvantage. We saw this in the Conservative Party in the case of Ian Duncan Smith, it was certainly an element in Ed Milliband’s case – from memory he was narrowly elected overall in an electoral college system, where he was clearly defeated by his brother David in the vote amongst MPs, and actually amongst party members also, it was a strong vote in his favour by the unions that got him in.

    In the case of Jermey we see this problem taken almost to its logical conclusion. he has a really good, and recent mandate from the membership and has lost the confidence of 80 per cent of the parliamentary party. It seems to me obvious, that whatever about whether you agree with Jeremy or not, or whether you voted for him or not, and whatever the formal consitutional position he simple cannot function as leader of the opposition.

    How can he stand up against the PM in the Commons when the Tories KNOW that the man addressing them is not supported by four out of five of his back benchers? How can that possibly work?

    There is also the issue of the very small pool from which he can draw members of the shadow cabinet.

    The conclusion I would draw is that the election of the leader should probably only be a matter for the Parliamentary Party. Which leaves the question as to how candidates for parliament are to be selected for another day.

  • David Barry

    Now labour have chosen a system whereby disagreement between the Parliamentary Party and the membership over who is to be leader is bound to occur from time to time, the Conservatives have a system which is even worse.

    They make it easy for any MP to stand. Then the MPs vote in successive ballots (each MP having only one vote in each ballot) until the candidates are reduced to a short list of two, and the members then choose between the two.

    This ensures that you have the candidate who tops the poll and has the support of a majority of MPs and the runner up who does not. And then the members choose either candidate, so they can choose someone who has been voted on by MPs and by that vote declared NOT to have the majority support. And so Ian Duncan Smith.

  • Max Bancroft

    What happens if Corbyn stands down, there is a leadership election and he gets re-elected by the membership? Against the wishes of the MPs?

  • Roger Darlington

    Lots of ‘ifs’ there, Max.

    If he stands down – so far he is refusing to do so, but I think he will soon.

    If he stands for re-election – I don’t think he will stand again but in that event arguably he would need the support of around 35 MPs/MEPs and I don’t think he would secure that.

    If he is re-elected – this would be far from certain because members have now seen him in action for almost a year and can see that he is simply not up to the job.

    Currently the media are reporting that a negotiated settlement is on the cards. As a former trade union official who wants to see the Labour Party once more as a credible choice for government, I hope the negotiations succeed.

  • David Barry

    If I were Corbyn I would certainly want to hang on until after Chillcott is published.


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