04 Jul 2016
July 4, 2016

Labour – who splits from whom?


Neil Kinnock and John Prescott popped up yesterday to point out the the Labour Party rule book says leadership candidates need to be nominated by 51 MPs to get on the ballot paper. Until now, the counter argument put by the Corbyn camp is that those who framed the rules didn’t imagine the present circumstances, and if they had they would have made it clear that the present leader can be on the ballot paper by right.

I think the lawyers are telling the Labour Party that the Kinnock/Prescott line is correct. In law this kind of case is commonsense with bells on. The rules appear clear – all ballot sheet candidates must have 51 MPs nominate them. It’s quite a hurdle to prove in court that the framers (very recently)  meant to exclude the sitting leader from the 51 MP requirement. It’s perfectly reasonable to require the same of the sitting leader which is required of everyone else, so proving that such an interpretation is perverse would be virtually impossible.

There are other signs that the game is up, too. First, Jeremy has been getting manhandled by his staff in a way which makes him look like a rookie candidate, or a leader who isn’t in control of his destiny. It’s a terrible look, and I think conveys the truth that things are getting desperate for the Corbyn camp.  Second, the Unite leader has proposed some kind of compromise – that’s a surefire sign that he thinks the Corbyn game is up and is trying to get what he can from the last few days of the Corbyn reign.

But if all this is true, then why haven’t the Labour ‘rebels’ moved? Well, the key issue is who splits from whom. The Labour Party general secretary has to ensure that the party rules are properly applied so that it’s clear who owns the brand and organisational paraphernalia. If there’s a split, even the very large number of Labour ‘rebels’ would find it hard to make a new brand successful. So they need to ensure that it’s the Corbynites who split. This is what will happen when Corbyn (or an ally) fails to get onto the ballot paper. Sure, this will cause a big loss of membership from the party – but the rebels think Corbynite politics are hopeless electorally, so if all the leavers (entryists?) join a new party of the left – funded by the Unite leadership? – then it won’t amount to much more than maybe a couple of seats at the next election. Meanwhile, the ‘rebels’ will have their party back.

In addition, factor in the Chilcott report. Corbyn will make attacking Blair and the Iraq War his last stand. And Owen Smith supporters will spread that mess all over Angela Eagle, who voted for the war. Owen was a cabinet member’s special advisor at the time, of course, but he’s using his non-MP status then to play the anti-war card. Then there are MPs who think that if Owen Smith with his blatant playing to the left-wing gallery is the best they can do then a challenge might produce little improvement upon Corbyn.

There’s an election coming, though (ignore Tory candidate’s protestations to the contrary), so there’ll be blood very soon.



7 Responses to Labour – who splits from whom?
  1. Unfortunately Eric the world had moved on since those three election results and I would once again refer you to the analysis done by the Rev Stuart Campbell on the number of votes lost over those three elections and the rise of those actively not voting because the choice is either coca cola, Pepsi cola, virgin cola or generic supermarket cola.

    Two points which you need picking up and putting right about. You repeat the mantra about “unelectabilty” without offering a single shred of evidence in support other than your own opinions. Saying something is so because you prefer to think it is so does not make it so. It is just another example of post truth, post rationality, post reality, politics.

    After less than a year of constant negative media output, much of it generated by this same bunch of chancers who the duly elected leader reached out to and included in the SC; after by elections and council elections which were predicted to see huge losses in seats and votes by those self same people which saw the labour Party vote fail to collapse; after the largest rise in party membership for decades (is it 200k in the past fortnight); the last poll before the referendum put both main parties on level pegging.

    It’s like a self fulfilling prophecy Eric, because that’s what those in the PLP who think the Labour Movement and the Party is their personal fiefdom want. Which brings us to the second point.

    Whenever someone has no substantive argument the first thing they reach for is a label in order to hide behind the fact that they have no firm ground to stand on. The idea that what Corbyn represents is somehow “hard left” is risible. Apart from Trident, which even some of those with expertise, knowledge and experience from within the military are starting to recognise as not fit for purpose, there is basically nothing within his platform that would have not been considered moderate and centerist within the Labour Party, the country and the political classes in the not too distant past.

    The problem is that the political class has moved what is considered to be the centre ground so far to the right that when people who you lot have abandoned for so long put a spoke in the wheel the fact that you have all so psychologically bought into this ideology means that the only response you have is that of a corporate media hack: ‘oh look over there at those silly little hard lefties’.

    It’s pathetic Eric. You are better than that. You can do better than that. In fact you and the PLP need to do better than that. You’ve lost the Labour vote in Scotland as a result of the position you have laid out here and you are about to make the same error south of the order. It is no longer congruent with reality to view the electorate and the country as dividable into simplistic homogenous blocks in the way it existed in the past.

    It’s like watching the WW1 generals approaching the task as though they were still fighting the Crimean war. I deliberately did not join the Labour party last year because even though I’ve never belonged to anything other than a Trade Union (and I kicked out nearly 20 years ago for reasons I need not go into) I did not feel it was right to do so. My approach is that, as an engineer with a science based approch, I’ll work with anyone if they are serious about doing the business.

    Personally, I’m not too happy about having to formally join the Labour Party, for the same reasons I would not join something like SWP or Militant or whoever (they all share the same exclusivity approach of the gatekeeper). But personal is not the same as important. A lot of people have put up with forty years of this crap that those in the PLP, who have plotted this student level nonsense these past 9 months, have stood for.

    They stood by whilst a Tory Government destroyed our industries,communities and livelihoods during the 80’s. Like a bunch for Uriah Heeps telling us we had to be “moderate,” pissing down our backs whilst telling us it was raining. Standing aside for privatisation of everything that is not superglued to the bedrock of the planet. Mortgaging the economy with PFI, a set of bombs which will be detonating and decimating the economy for years to come. Ill advised and illegal wars and destruction of countries to satisfy the vanities of a charismatic leader. Student fees, academies, schooling instead of education, benefits for the well off and cuts for the vulnerable. What a bleeding record Eric. That’s “centerist” “sensible” politics where you come from is it?

    You split if you want mate. But understand this, the vast majority of those the Labour party have lost, in terms of votes in elections, as a result of these so called “Centerist” and “sensible” policies, to other party’s like the SNP, PC, the Greens and the non of the above – which is a constituency larger than any single party vote at any recent GE – you cannot win an election without us whatever you choose to call yourselves.

    If the PLP student politicos are serious about winning any election and making progress they have to grow up and recognise that it is no longer tenable to treat so many people as having nowhere else to go. It’s over. Deal with it.

  2. Interesting analysis Eric , from an insiders perspective , lots of things I had not noticed .
    Though i did notice the “manhandling ” you refer to , as a BBC clip showed Corbyn in some kind of discussion , and I did notice one of his aides holding him and directing him away .

    Bit like dragging a barking dog away .

    I don’t wish Corbyn ill , and find him a breath of fresh air actually (and his Chancellor ) , though I would never vote for them , nor am I responsible for getting them elected 😉

    the manhandling struck me as “odd” at the time , and you have explained why.
    So can imagine Elections are not run for “entertainment ” purposes .

    One point I would like to make , Corbyn strikes me as genuine and “honest” , in one sense he can afford to be he has stood by his principles all his life .

    Governing is horsetrading , compromise and back pedalling , survival is the key .

    So Corbyn would have made a poor PM, and probably sunk without trace.

    • Thanks, Papko. See Rev’s comments below, though. Hmmmm. Re: Corbyn; there’s a lot of folk saying he’s a horrible chap but I know him very well and there’s no doubt he’s a thoroughly nice bloke – he’s funny and endearing, even. Some of the folk tucked in behind him, though, are quite a long way from all of that and their true politics are just indulgent impossibilist stuff which will harm regular folk.

  3. Can’t agree with any of this. The common sense interpretation, and the one found by the lawyers Labour hired, is that Corbyn DOESN’T need nominations. His nomination is the fact that he’s already the leader. The rules say CHALLENGERS need nominations, not an incumbent.

    (They also talk of a situation where there’s no vacancy, and if Corbyn needed nominating then he’d be NOT nominated by default and therefore there WOULD be a vacancy.)

    He’ll be on the ballot paper (assuming the plotters ever grow a pair and actually challenge him), he’ll win, the rebels will have to leave and Corbyn keeps the brand.

    • This is worryingly convincing. Yet, if true, would tend towards the possibility that I might be wrong. Obviously, as a former politician my response to a change of facts is to hold the same, dogmatic line in the face of all reason.

      • It’s a genuinely refreshing sight, reading the last sentence of that reply to the Rev, to see a politician displaying such a degree of self awareness.

        It’s just a shame the actual content of this thread failed to match it. To be fair what’s been written here is probably as accurate a description of the mindset from inside the Westminster bubble of the (at present) majority of the PLP. Which is sad really because it’s pure Walter Mitty.

        Not one of these spivs and dandy’s has the decency and honesty to frame the issue for what it is. For this is not about one man, it’s not even about leadership. It’s about policy. It’s about choices on offer. It’s about whether the largest electoral constituency, those who have opted out in millions over election after election are actually going to be represented or continue to face a non choice of four different brands of the same product.

        On leadership and all the other little elements which unpack from that, such as charisma and media profile and all the other managementspeak bollox, the traditional constituencies which these Walter Mitty’s are getting concerned about; you know all those places in the North and the Midlands and Wales which the business (read corporate) friendly triangulation said have nowhere else to go which voted out (who was running the Labour Remain campaign, oh yes it was that self righteous spiv from the old UCW currently (temporarily) occupying a constituency seat in Hull); voted out to stick two fingers up to the gravy train politicians who have abandoned them since Callaghan took office.

        You know, the ones with the flashy suits and celebrity media images, like the we’re entitled to a representative dynasty Kinnock’s and Straw’s, the SPADS & posh schoolboys who have never done a real days work in their lives, parachuted into constituencies over the heads of real people from those within those communities and who have nothing in common with them. Who pay lip service to those they are supposed to be representing as they are more interested in the next business lunch meeting with corporate lobbyists on route to the revolving door of another cushy number after playing student level politics. You know, the majority of the current PLP, trying to ape their counterparts on the benches opposite till its their turn.

        A PLP largely bereft of honest, decent, real people from within the communities they represent, like the Martin Flannery’s, Joan Maynard’s, Eric Heffer’s, etc.

        It’s over Eric. The Labour Party can’t win without them and those of us who held our noses to vote Remain with a recycled and discarded circa 2005 Polly the parrot Toynbee clothes peg, patent pending from the journal formally known as the Guardian “newspaper” (sic). And anyone who takes the trouble to keep their ear to the ground and listen to the recent radio phone ins and TV vox pops will tell you that the last thing the majority are looking for are charismatic drones in suits.

        What people are looking for is competence, not charisma. We’ve seen what charismatic media celebrity leadership does, read your 20th century history and the recent past (detailed in the Chilcot report). That’s just a convenient smokescreen from those who never accepted Corbyn and, more relevant, what policy platform he stands on, from the start, even when he reached out and included them all with a broad tent approach. It’s next to impossible to be effective and avoid a bunker mentality when people you are trying to work with are and have been from the beginning plotting and briefing their corporate media buddies with poison from day one.

        You know Eric, competence. Like having a contigency plan for an exit EU vote ; or rebuilding a country when you undermine the UN and bomb the crap out of your former CIA/MI5 asset; or a joined up set of policies. We’ve put up with 40 years of a failed economic doctrine and nauseating cringe worthy Uriah Heepist feudal forelock tugging , give it up and recognise the real world voting figures and stats that Stuart Campbell has provided over the past two years.

        It’s not the PLP’s party. It’s a movement. The party is “A” means to an end, not “The” means. Its no longer possible to play the gatekeeper like the Party is the Christian church where it’s only through “The Party” that the promised land can be reached. Doling out EU O1 and other monies for distressed communities through artificially created “local” organisations stuffed with local party apparatchiks to serve the needs of corporate interests, whilst at the same time undermining and brutally destroying local bottom up grassroots initiatives and starving them of funding.

        The PLP Progress cult are deluded if they seriously think they are going to hijack the movement from the ordinary people they are meant to serve on the basis of the same failed economic Tory policies (how many voted for benefit cuts Eric,180 plus was it?, how many voted to bomb Syria in support of IS and a non existent set of “moderates”?). If people want Tory policies they will will vote for the real thing not the wannabes.

        If the majority of the PLP are not prepared to stand on a progressive alternative platform because they think it will not produce a result they are in for a nasty shock because if no real alternative is offered people will either go elsewhere or continue to vote, like this family of 4 did in 2015, for non of the above until these parasites get the message and move out of the way, either voluntarily or forcibly, for those who are willing to stand up and offer a competent, caring, option.

        Thst’s why so many have suddenly joined up over the past two weeks. Even grumpy old Groucho Marxists like myself who would never belong to a group who would have me as member. Votes of confidence are not just the perogative of the self declared entitled in the PLP, they are also a tool available to the membership and those amongst the electorate who the PLP don’t want because we don’t share their own right wing biases.

        The only way the self entitled cultists are going to prevail is by doing a George Bush and denying a vote to anyone who will not vote for their candidate whilst at the same time getting the supreme court to declare that candidate the winner or di ilar gerrymandering. At which point the two fingered message to not just the membership but the electorate about the total disdain for democracy will be heard loud and clear. Either way, it’s a no win for them. Either the membership will deselect or the electorate will ensure they are out of their cushy number.

        • Thanks for this, Dave. If the NEC (which pretty much evenly split Corbynites/non) decides tomorrow that Jeremy needs 51 nominations then there’ll be a split I imagine. The big union leaders who are using the chaos to justify their re-election against expected retirement will have a quandary – they can try to set up a new party with the couple of hundred thousand of very new Labour members if they like, although this is a hard call for someone who wants to tell their membership they have influence on government. The new party of the left might get a seat or two in parliament, but it’ll be beset by the same identity crises which the Communist Party/SWP etc have always been beset by. In the end, very few people will vote for an impossibilist party of the left. You’re quite wrong about Progress – it’s just a collection of kids. A party leader has to command the support of his/her parliamentary group – it’s fundamental. Regular Labour MPs have given up on Jeremy for the simple reason that he’s leading the party to catastrophic defeat. I see that you casually disregard Labour’s 3 election wins under Blair – I think that approach is the politics of self-indulgence – it helps no-one because is eschews the importance of actually winning elections. In all seriousness, though, you should join whatever new party of the left arises and see how it goes.


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