It is looking increasingly bad for Labour in the two by elections to be held on February 23rd, i.e. next Thursday. The Tories have a small but steady lead in Copeland, and barring a herculean ground campaign on the day, Labour are almost certain to lose. Corbyn and his inner circle seem to have all but acknowledged this. In Stoke, UKIP have a large lead – which is growing – but Labour might hang on just through the almost dependable awfulness of UKIP’s ground effort on the day mixed with UKIP’s other gaffes throughout the whole campaign, which are too numerous to even begin to summarise.
Given Labour could be about to lose two formerly safe seats on the same day, there has been a lot of speculation about Corbyn’s ability to survive such a setback. Some are saying that Corbyn would be forced to step down as leader if both Copeland and Stoke are defeats for Labour.
All I can say is: what world have you been living in for the past eighteen months if you think the Labour leader is in real trouble here? Jeremy Corbyn had 80% of his parliamentary party vote no confidence in him and he shrugged it off as insignificant. Yet pundits still believe that somewhere along the line Corbyn is going to start respecting the old rules of the game. He isn’t. The idea that Corbyn would feel that it was appropriate to vacate the leader’s office because of two by election defeats is ridiculous.
Could he be forced out? Let’s see, the right of Labour could try and challenge him again. But that would just result in another leadership contest in which Corbyn won. The left of the party could finally figure out that Corbyn is a massive vote loser, but even if they came to a consensus on that point, what could they realistically do about it? If they get rid of Corbyn they have no means of getting a hard left candidate onto the ballot. Until they get the McDonnell Clause ratified (meaning that only 5% as opposed to 15% of the PLP would be required to nominate a candidate), they are bound to Corbyn whether they like it not, the only other choice being a reversion to a more centrist leader. And given internal Labour politics, the McDonnell Clause is a long way from being enacted, if ever.
I’d be astounded beyond belief if Corbyn faces anything other than a slight wobble if Labour are double losers next Thursday. The right can’t really do anything and the left can’t really do anything either. The Labour Party are stuck with Corbyn for the foreseeable future.
Assem Khouzam says
Nick, your conclusion at the end that ‘The Labour Party are stuck with Corbyn for the foreseeable future’ is absolutely right. So what is the point of your article?! I guess this is what some people are fond of: stirring!
I believe and correct me if I am wrong that the Lib Dems are not really hoping to win in these 2 by elections. You would not want UKIP to win another seat or the Tories to add a seat to their slim majority, would you? I expected you rather than playing party politics to look at the bigger picture and what is best for the country. Perhaps I should have known better looking at what the Lib Dems did in government in collaboration with the Tories against the ordinary people of this country.
You could have at least waited for people’s decision next week before you start stirring, at least there might be more substance to what you have to say!
Emma Casey says
“I expected you rather than playing party politics to look at the bigger picture and what is best for the country.”
By supporting my party over the other party naturally. When people support the other team they’re playing party politics, when they support my team it’s for the good of the country.
Alison Willott says
Assem: Nick was analysing possible options for the Labour party: it’s a commentary, not playing party politics. I’m surprised you are so negative about the coalition being “against the ordinary people of this country”. The Lib Dem achievements in the coalition, given our tiny numbers of MPs c.f. the Tories, were remarkable, ranging from substantial environmental measures (subsequently got rid of by the Tories) to industrial progress and jobs, plus really good apprenticeships, courtesy of Vince at Dept of BIZ. Gay marriage contrary to Tory propaganda was solely a Lib Dem achievement, as was raising the income tax threshold, done despite huge Tory opposition at the time. Norman Lamb brought mental health right up on the priority list. Well done, Lib Dems.
David Wood says
Pretending that Corbyn is anything other than a colossal fucking humanitarian tragedy isn’t really going to help Labour or the currently opposition-less country though, is it?
Right now the concern is where Corbyn is taking the Labour Party “in collaboration with the Tories” against the interests of the country on Brexit.
The coalition was then, nothing so awful happened then as is happening now. To pretend otherwise is to persist with the dislocation with reality that got the Labour Party here it is now.
Where is the evidence of UKIP having “a large lead” in Stoke?
I’ve been twice and the poster count I saw was:
Lib Dem 2
The only leaflets I saw (apart from the ones I was delivering) were Labour.
Richard Underhill says
In his book All Out War Tim Shipman of the Sunday Times quoted an unnamed senior Labour figure as saying that Jeremy Corbyn would not resign the labour leadership if he lost the 2020 general election, only if he dies.
labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson has drawn a red line at 2020, the reality of power to delivery of electoral promises.