It’s going to be a bad week for the Labour Party

Last week was Jeremy Corbyn’s worst week ever as leader of the Labour Party—that was until this week.  

A widely-shared blog today from Conservative journalist Chris Deerin spares no sympathy in its utter dismissal of Jeremy Corbyn as a serious political figure in British politics. “The Corbyn leadership is the most farcical, ill-advised and embarrassing episode in British political history. Everything about it is wrong. And, as I say, it is already over.”

There are Corbyn supporters who will dismiss these words as a howl of fear from a frightened establishment figure. But for many MPs and moderate members, Deerin is simply voicing what they always feared would happen under Corbyn, and now believe, with sadness and unbearable frustration, to be true.

But it’s not just about the future of Jeremy Corbyn that’s at stake anymore, according to Dan Hodges, who wrote a piece today where he argued that the threat to the party’s survival is now urgent and existential. “Now it is about the Labour Party – and a week that could come to define the Labour Party.”

This is the week the Prime Minister will put the case to Parliament for airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria, and there can be no more “open debate,” as Corbyn has favoured on difficult issues till now, about what the Labour position will be. Labour must come to a decision, as a party, and Corbyn cannot hedge with a free vote, allowing his front bench to veer off in different directions. As Jonathan Todd writes on Labour Uncut: “It’s time to take a stand.”

“There have been times in our nation’s history,” Hodges writes, “when our political parties have adopted the right stance on military intervention. There have been times when they have adopted the wrong stance. But I cannot recall an occasion in my lifetime when one of those parties failed to adopt any stance at all.”

………

But it was last week, until this week, that was Corbyn’s worst week ever.

Pressure has been building in the party since August, as a reemergent far left, emboldened by a huge intake of new Corbyn-supporting members, has clashed with with the Parliamentary Labour Party, which remains largely moderate.

Corbyn’s enormous victory in the leadership election seemed to cement his mandate for at least the next two years, if not until 2020. But the left has struggled to assert its control and dilute internecine strife.

Some moderates have employed a strategy of allying with the left of the party to make it work. Though Monday meetings of the PLP have been consistently hostile and confrontational, though many MPs have regularly briefed against the leader, and though some MPs have gone as far as to openly condemn Corbyn on an almost daily basis, there has been an unspoken rule up until now that, given Corbyn’s mandate, the centre and right of the party must accept its moment is now over, and, until Corbyn’s leadership can be tested in upcoming elections, allow the left to steer the direction of the party.

But with rumours of a coup tonight, the “make it work” days seem have come to an abrupt, and remarkably quick, end. That’s largely to do with what played out last week, starting with what many saw as Corbyn’s poor response to the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Last Monday, at a meeting of the PLP, the feeling in the party suddenly shifted. Corbyn was shouted down by some of his own MPs during a fiery argument about comments he gave during a BBC interview where he appeared to question a police ‘shoot to kill’ policy in the case of a Paris-style attack in the UK. After the meeting, one of Corbyn’s front benchers branded the leader a “fucking disgrace”.

But the week got worse for Corbyn on Wednesday when MPs lashed out over his surprise announcement that Ken Livingstone, a trusted friend and anti-Nuke ally on the far left, would co-chair the party’s defence review. Shadow defense secretary, Maria Eagle, who had been leading on the review, said she was not consulted before the appointment.

Things continued to deteriorate. When shadow defence minister Kevan Jones, who has suffered from depression in the past, questioned whether Livingstone had any defense experience, Livingstone responded by saying Jones was “obviously very depressed and disturbed” and “should see a GP”. Corbyn, who has promised a new era of nicer, kinder politics, asked Livingstone to apologise, which he initially refused to do before offering one on Twitter. There were no further repercussions from Corbyn’s office.

But it got worse. On Saturday, Corbyn gave a speech calling for a new kind of foreign policy that gave the UK a “more independent” relationship from the rest of the world where “war is a last resort”. The speech coincided with the announcement that the UN Security Council had unanimously approved ‘all necessary measures’ against Isil in Syria. Responding to the announcement, Prime Minister David Cameron said, “We cannot expect others to shoulder burdens and risks of protecting this country”. Many Labour MPs have lined up to back up the Prime Minister’s call for action.

Labour MPs have sought to distance themselves from Corbyn’s anti-interventionist approach to foreign policy. Chuka Umunna, a former candidate for the Labour leadership, told the Today programme: “The first duty of any elected representative, not just ministers, is to do all we can to ensure the security of our constituents, particularly in the face of the terrorist threat we are facing.

“This goes above and beyond party politics, and dare I say it internal party politics. Because if you cannot keep the people safe in their eyes, that is a disqualification from office.”

Then on Saturday evening a ComRes poll for The Independent on Sunday was published showing that a 15 point gap had emerged between Labour and the Conservatives. NumbrCrunchrPolitics tweeted that at 27%, compared to the Conservatives’ 42%, this was Labour’s worst poll while in opposition since September 1983. 

That was last week. This week will be the true test of Corbyn’s ability to handle and fight off his opponents in the Parliamentary Labour Party. Anger and defiance on the right of the party is growing, but, as the Times reports tonight, an exclusive poll shows that Corbyn remains the overwhelming first choice for the Labour grassroots, with 66% of members backing him. It’s likely to be a bad week again for the Labour party. 

 

,

  • mickfealty

    All good with Jeremy though.

    I’ve been Leader of the Labour Party for just over two months now and already we’ve achieved so much together:

    – Our campaign on tax credits has put George Osborne under real pressure

    – We’ve dragged the Government behind us on the threat to our steel industry

    – And we’ve held the Tories to account over their failure on the NHS which has seen waiting lists rise, staffing in crisis and hospitals in financial deficit

    This has all been achieved by listening to you, and this week will be no different. So let me know what question you’d like me to ask the Prime Minister…

    He has a point on the first two, but I cannot see exactly what’s holding up his claim on the NHS. On number one, erm, we’ll see in the CSR on Wednesday, and on number two, we’ll see.

    On the whole, I don’t think the politics of Islington is translating terribly well to the Labour heartlands. Losing that for a broad centre left party is, erm, going to be challenging to reverse.

  • murdockp

    ah the left.

    there is little place in liberal democracy for a traditional labour movement as labour are discovering.

    Corbyn is like the real Madrid manager. in the job but everyone knows he is already out of a job

  • 23×7

    Yawn. Did the world really need this article? It’s not even an original hatchet job just simple a cut n paste from elsewhere.

    It’s come to sad point when someone who opposes shoot to kill and dropping bombs on women and children is derided as a madman.

    Corbyn has a huge mandate. If he rids the party of a few Oxbridge ppe types and reconnects the party with its guiding principles over the next few years he’ll have done a good job.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Indeed, 23×7! What is being vaunted as “broad public opinion” is the creation of the Murdoch (and other) media empires using the mendacious persuasion techniques of Edward Bernays:

    http://freedocumentaries.org/documentary/bbc-the-century-of-the-self-eight-people-sipping-wine-in-kettering-season-1-episode-4

    Sure, we think for ourselves, but, ho humm…….. the information we use has been edited in advance by what attracts advertising revenue to media platforms. Corbyn simply does not chime with the needs of international capital and the media it owns. So as I’ve said a few times before the sort of policies Jeremy is speaking off, most of which would have been unremarkable to any One nation Tory in the 1960s are painted as Red Revolution and Jeremy described in terms that would be extreme applied to Pol Pot!

    But as Mick says below, the “broad centre left party” our wider electorate has been so debauched into regarding as the normal state of being for “nice people” will have difficulty even realising that Jeremy and the revitalised party across the country should be listened to, and even then the “labour heartlands” have been so Thatcherised (“My greatest achievement is Tony Blair”, said Thatcher) that actually getting people to see that there is anything outside of the “mental” (in both senses) land of Murdochia is going to be a long, uphill struggle.

  • TruthToPower

    An excellent article. Ruffled a few surrenderists feathers no doubt. Cameron if he’d any wit should call a snap election (bet he regrets the fixed term parliament act , a supreme act of folly on his part) and wipe Labour from the map which they deserve. We all want peace but Corbyn believes that we should be sitting ducks to all coming terrorists and their fellow travellers as we should be perpetually donning sack cloth and ashes over our colonial past.

    The left wing esp in England have always had a visceral hatred of their own country and indeed recently I read an article from Left Unity praising Isis’s ‘progressive stance’

    http://m.huffpost.com/uk/entry/6171252

    There are many other such references

    Labours folly was giving the leadership vote to the members who have only the slimmest understanding of realpolitik and are prey to populist but unrealistic and frankly dangerous policies of chip on shoulder leftism.

    Only MPs should be allowed to elect their leader. They know who is best to lead and more importantly win an election or at least elect someone who will not reduce their number to a parliamentary rump.

    Labour is no longer a socialist party but rather a party now led by a self appointed bohemian cabal who are driven by a dislike of their country and a love of all things terrorists who they call freedom fighters. They’re finished and good riddance

  • 23×7

    You do realise that the Tories have a majority yet they don’t have the votes on their own to get approval to bomb Syria. I’ll let you work out the rest.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “Labours folly was giving the leadership vote to the members who have only the slimmest understanding of realpolitik and are prey to populist but unrealistic and frankly dangerous policies of chip on shoulder leftism.

    Only MPs should be allowed to elect their leader. They know who is best to lead and more importantly win an election or at least elect someone who will not reduce their number to a parliamentary rump.”

    Translation: Thank goodness we are ruled by serious experts and no one has seriously contemplated any real experiments in genuine democracy! It would be so difficult to ensure that the needs of international finance, our genuine overlords, were properly met if parties were to come under the control of their members. They might actually start questioning the Murdoch Press sponsored world image that we have been taught to call “realism.”

    And, incidentally, we would not be able to discover just how much value for money can be got out from sending a smaller and smaller army to keep us looking macho and a World Power. (Important note: “we already are “sitting Ducks””)

  • 23×7

    Actually it looks like Jeremy’s week has started off rather well.

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2015/nov/24/66-of-labour-members-think-corbyn-is-doing-well-poll-suggests-politics-live

    66% of Labour members think Corbyn is doing well, poll suggests

  • guest

    The huff post article clearly states that the isis motion was voted down unanimously and that being a totally democratic organization any motion can be brought so what is your point with this nebulous reference? Truth to power? I think not. Some thinking required on your part.

  • TruthToPower

    I’d say a similar number said they were pleased with Foot, Kinnock, Brown and Milliband. It’s the national electorate’s opinion that would be interesting

  • TruthToPower

    You can only trust the Tories when it comes to defence.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I think if Corbyn sticks to his principles and Syria goes pear-shaped, things will swing. Shoot to Kill is not going to win admirers among British Civil Rights groups anyway, it’s particularly not going to win favours among some quarters of the British-Irish or the British Muslim Community.

    As Alex Kane rightly pointed out Jeremy Corbyn is the best that Labour have, though he didn’t mean it as a compliment.

    The Blairites need to bury the hatchet and accept the will of the party, stop sniping from the sidelines and give up Fabian zeitgeists and their ivory towers to get in touch with their constituents again and the overzealous members on the left need to wake up, show a bit of self-discipline and take responsibility.

  • TruthToPower

    The fact that the motion was even tabled is worrying in itself. Did we have party conferences in the late 1930s asking conference that this house believes Nazism is a force for progress? I think not.

  • TruthToPower

    I genuinely believe in heirachy and that some people are better placed at governance than most. I’m not a huge fan of democracy actually. Th country should be run by the military but with social liberalism. All tabled policy suggestions should meet criteria ie does this endanger national well being etc.

  • guest

    Yes I would say that there probably were such views – Hitler was well regarded by many (including some members of the British establishment) . So you now accept that your reference was misleading and you retreat your argument to the proposal of the motion which was unanimously rejected. What is your line of argument? Someone proposes a motion, it is overwhelmingly rejected – thus I will use it as a first class example of how the left is having a dalliance with isis? Woolly thinking.

  • 23×7

    It’s already going pear shaped with Turkey and Russia shooting at each other.

  • submariner

    I’m not a huge fan of democracy actually.

    You wouldn’t be a Unionist by any chance

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Seriously, why is anyone surprised that Labour are in a tailspin? They elected a Marxist clown from the 70’s who has been given (to his own great surprise) the keys to the chocolate factory. The fact that he’s pigging out and heading for the slaughter was always a given since the day he was elected. Expect more of the same delusions of a Marxist idyll.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Balkan War level cross-hairs stuff, not yet Vietnam/Korean levels.

  • chrisjones2

    Many of those may be the ones trolling Centrist / Moderate Labour MPs. There is also the element that ‘our party right or wrong’ no matter what it does. Think DUP or SF on a national scale

  • TruthToPower

    I am a unionist but autocratic thinking is not confined to unionism. SF are not exactly ticking the democratic boxes when it comes to those few who don’t tow the party line

  • chrisjones2

    So what ….they offer a free vote and some Conservative MPS take a clear ‘not our problem’ line

    Corbyn was all for a free vote in 2013 but since he gained the Leadership he and the Politburo want to control everything and eliminate any dissent – like all good Communists

  • TruthToPower

    No. My reference was not misleading.

  • chrisjones2

    “Did the world really need this article?”

    Perhaps not. Just curl back up and we will wake you when something important happens

  • chrisjones2

    “Shoot to Kill is not going to win admirers among British Civil Rights groups anyway, it’s particularly not going to win favours among some quarters of the British-Irish or the British Muslim Community.”

    Are you suggesting as Corbyn has that people of Irish and Muslim backgrounds in the UK will not support the police in confronting armed terrorists aiming to murder citizens? If the French had taken that attitude in Paris what would the death toll have been?

    You also ignore that Article 2 of ECHR requires states to take all steps necessary to protect Article 2 rights – and that includes taking effective steps to stop those who would kill others

  • Kevin Breslin

    Last time shoot to kill was used in the UK bombers weren’t stopped anyway and an innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes was killed. Shoot to Kill isn’t the just the use of lethal force, but the use of lethal force without any attempt at arrest. The use of lethal force in this case was purely an act of machismo. The French did attempt to arrest suicide bombers in Saint Denis.

    If there was shoot to harm if at all possible rather than some macho imperative to use a power to prove such a power is useful, maybe the security forces would be more trusted with it.

  • 23×7

    Yet you seem fascinated by him and prepared to take the time out from watching loose women to post about him.

  • Greenflag 2

    The country should be run by the military ??

    So you think the UK should be run like Argentina was prior to the Falklands war ? So who should the UK invade when the Generals screw up the economy ?

    “I’m not a huge fan of democracy actually.’

    So your preference is for rule by an unelected military , or perhaps unelected monarchy or I can imagine a Unionist version of this gobshite who decided his uncle endangered what you call national well being .

  • 23×7

    Do you still think it’s a minor incident? The brainless rush to war without considering the potential consequences. Things as we are seeing can quickly spiral out of control.
    Yet again Corbyn is being proven right with his caution.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Oh not this old chestnut again 23X7. You asked me the same question when I told you Ed Milliband (remember him, Ed “Stone”) could never be PM. Have you come out of your box again just to be put back in it? Get over it, you lost the last election to a Tory majority and you (read Unions) went ahead and voted in someone even further left than Ed Milliband. You will loose the next election and I’ll run through the streets of Belfast naked if Corbyn ever becomes Prime Minister. I’d watch an episode of Loose Women and see individuals with more balls than Jeremy Corbyn ever had or has.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I believe it’s Major not Supermajor yet.

  • Reader

    Kevin Breslin: Shoot to Kill isn’t the just the use of lethal force, but the use of lethal force without any attempt at arrest.
    There isn’t a consensus as to what the term means. Certainly you don’t get to dictate what it means to everyone else. When Corbyn was asked the question in the interview, he should have either clarified the interviewer’s interpretation, or stated his own. In the end he had to have another go at answering the question the next day.

  • mac tire

    “There is also the element that ‘our party right or wrong’ no matter what it does.”

    Chris, you have form here when it comes to your Tory masters in London. Criticising others for doing it sounds a bit…well…hypocritical.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I genuinely respect your honesty. In Northern Ireland those who govern us are so certain of a solid voting block (what I habitually call “Voting by Standing Order” on Slugger) that it takes a great deal of imagination to even begin to pretend that we live in any kind of democracy. Having soldiers in my immediate family, and in my ancestry, the one thing I’d say is that most of those I knew so loathed politics and politicians that they would be reluctant to get their hands dirty in this way.

    But I’m very much a direct democracy man myself, the fewer actual politicians the better and a citizenship matured by responsibility would be my own preference.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Do you honestly think that if the powers were anything less than what I meant (i.e. shooting without arrest attempt) that these powers wouldn’t require Parliamentary approval anyway?

    Do you not think that UK security forces already have the power to fight lethal force with lethal force?

    Do you honestly think anti-terrorism was simply left to the counterintelligence services?

  • Reader

    Far too many double negatives in there. I was replying to your personal definition of ‘shoot to kill’ and you have responded with two (possibly 3) tangents.
    I think that, during the interview, Corbyn answered the question that was in his head, not the one in his ears. I’m wondering if you are doing the same.

  • chrisjones2

    How do you know what happened in St Denis? And circumstances are a little different – in Paris she was alone and in London de Menezes was on a crowded tube train. The error wasnt in the decision to shoot – it was way before that in misidentifying him and in poor control of the whole operation

    And Corbyn’s version of shoot to kiss isnt yours. In the past he has advocated totally disarming police, as has his Chancellor

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Sergiogeorgio, I’ll be waiting at the gates of the Belfast City Hall for your “streak” past a few years hence in 2020. Thank goodness the worst of the late winter snows should be a thing of the past by the weekend of 9/10 May, by which time sufficient results should be in to enable Jeremy to visit that older lady at the foot of the Mall, certainly after the budgetary miscalculations of that very nice David Cameron, and that other fellow whose father was a wallpaper designer, have ensured either a Labour Victory or very bloody revolution by the dispossessed.

    Don’t commit yourself to sitting in front of “Loose Women” however, simply boring and predictable “conflict” Pan-Sexualisation for the “Divorce me Darling” generation selling them hard to move product.

  • TruthToPower

    I respect your graciousness and indeed your opinions as I do others

  • TruthToPower

    I think the UK military would be better and more measured than their hot headed counterparts in the Argentine. It would be like being ruled by Dads Army. Well intentioned , slightly daft in parts but all done in good spirit and quietly effective. I love my kids but I wouldn’t let them decide matters of household spending. The electorate should be treated the same. With kindness by those who know best and believe me there are and have been and always will be hierarchies.

  • Greenflag 2

    Indeed there will always be hierarchies and that’s part of human nature . Alas so is megalomania and theres more than a high incidence of the trait in those who seek or are actually in power be it political or financial or even military in states where the Army rules .

    Churchill stated that while experts should be on tap they should never be on top . Its essential for society that hierarchies can be changed preferably non violently when they become entrenched , corrupt , nepotistic etc etc . For society generally peaceful transitions are preferable for when those who know best are found to have their knowledge acquired in the last century or from another economic era then its bloodbath time and then the people get no choice between totalitarianism of the right or left .

    Dads Army was a TV show . In the real world Dads Army would have lasted 4 hours if that against a full scale German invasion . Father Jack Hackett would have put up a better fight 😉

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Jez will be long gone by 2020. He’s a patsy, a last throw of the union dice. He’s Milliband X 10 ( the wrong Milliband, that is). With that my manhood will be well ensconced behind well tailored, yet trendy denim. Sorry to dissapoint Seaan. Off to give Loose Women a go as I’m now intrigued.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    SG, it is always difficult for those enmeshed in the distractions of the Murdoch press marketing miasma to hear the authentic music of change, so I entirely understand your personal failure to see that Milliband was defeated entirely because all he was really offering was a facsimile of what Cameron far, far more convincingly offered. But I will be definitely holding you to the streak if any of us are still commenting on Slugger in May 2020.

    Let me know what you think of Loose Women, but please note that if you are married, it may influence your wife to cash in on the family pot and go looking for toy boys in perhaps rather tighter denim. Be careful to watch it alone…..

  • Sergiogiorgio

    It’s the Sun what done it? Oh do behave Seaan. Ed Milliband was the most unlikeliest of PMs until the unions dragged up Jezzer. The electorate saw right through Ed the unelectable (“it’s the economy stupid”). The only difference with Jezzer is that Labour MPs don’t even support him. The bet is safe my friend.

    As for Loose Women, I went out and tried one, but didn’t like it. No purchase.

    😉

  • SeaanUiNeill

    My wife went to school with one of Murdoch’s daughters. Bit of an eye opener…….

    I’m booking my place at the City Hall gates for 2020!

    And I’m still astonished to discover just what a Trotskyist the late Earl of Stockton appears to have been. Although Supermac may have differed from Jeremy a tad on defence matters…….

  • Greenflag 2

    “Corbyn simply does not chime with the needs of international capital and the media it owns”

    Anyone who questions the absolute power which the City has over Britain’s government and economy is immediately targeted by every right wing hack in the country as a threat to the City which from a Tory perspective means a threat to US .

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh I know this only too well! I have banker cousins in the City who accuse met of mendacious cripto-Greenist mischief making (“MOI”?) and have even spoken of having me put up against a wall when Osborne’s revolution is finally successful and the loose ends are being tied up. I’m even sorry now I had my eighteenth wing backs re-covered in Osborne and Little brocade last time I had them done.

  • Chingford Man

    Corbyn and the Labour Party are stuffed. Good

  • Ernest Blofeld

    The Brazilian was an electrician on the tube who emailed a friend in Brazil something the adjustment bureau choked on their cavier over and study the ccty evidence the poor fella was walking down the platform not a care in the world.

  • Ernest Blofeld

    How do you know they are out of control are you currently posting from Syria. Have you witnessed any of these events?

  • barnshee

    “Shoot to Kill is not going to win admirers among British Civil Rights groups anyway, it’s particularly not going to win favours among some quarters of the British-Irish or the British Muslim Community.”

    Hmm –it all depends who they shoot and kill– The AFM British -Irish (whoever they are ?) and Muslim community will keep their heads well down if members of their community turn up with bombs and come to a sticky end.