The Labour Leadership Chicken Coup

If you are looking for anyone to blame for the chaos in the British Labour Party …look no further than Ed Miliband. By any standards, he was a decent bloke, a professional Islington type who landed a safe seat in the north of England. The defeat of his Blairite brother, David (also a Londoner witha safe northern seat) produced tension…David, probably more professional and charismatic but tainted by Blairism, went off in a huff to United States.

Labour lost the 2015 General Election. And certainly Ed was no asset. Especially with a vicious Tory media. I can forgive him losing the Election but he resigned with indecent haste….within days of the defeat.
I firmly believe that he deserted his troops. That is unforgivable.
With potential leaders like David Miliband and Ed Balls not even in Westminster, it was a shambolic four-person contest for Leader. Most people saw Yvette Cooper (Mrs Ed Balls) and Andy Burnham as the likely winner.
Cooper was too much of an “insider” (from a family of professional trade unionists, “advisor” in Labour HQ and of course married to a man who had the same career path). Burnham was more authentically working class, but vitriolic against Scottish Nationalists.
A third candidate, Liz Kendall was the ultra-Blairite and really only in the race to establish credentials as being in the first rank of six or eight big players in Labour…one for the future.
Few gave any thought that veteran left winger, Jeremy Corbyn might win. But they had overlooked the fact that the electorate included not just every rank and file Labour Party member…but thousands of “three pounders” who signed up as Labour supporters for the sole purpose of voting in the Leadership election. Predictably this included several thousand lefties who would vote for Corbyn. It also included several thousand people who detest the Labour Party and wanted to choose the worst possible Leader.
Of course opinions differed as to who the worst might be but it is still folly not to screen membership applications from Tories. And even bigger folly not to insist that new members serve at least a full year before being given crucial voting rights.

As the Leadership campaign unfolded, it became clear that Jeremy Corbyn might win. And he did…comfortably. The membership including the “three pounders” had analysed the crisis in the Labour Party differently from the Party establishment at Westminster.
To his credit, Andy Burnham decided to serve in Corbyn’s “shadow cabinet” and shamefully Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall (who has a higher opinion of her talents than I have) refused. Thus the plotting began immediately and Corbyn’s leadership was undermined right away.

The “Labour Left” is a strange thing. In any Parliament I have ever seen, there have been Labour back benchers who see it as their job to keep the Leadership of the Labour Party (even Labour Governments) honest. They are without ambition. They cant be bribed with the promise of a post in the Cabinet.
On the downside, they can be a bit messianic.
If you are the same age as me you might recall Ian Mikardo, Eric Heffer and the wonderful Joan Maynard, dubbed “Stalins Granny” but a formidable advocate of agriculture workers rights.
In 2016, you know of Jeremy Corbyn, Paul Flynn and Dennis Skinner “The Beast of Bolsover”. They are simply incorruptable.
The term usually deployed is “VETERAN Left Winger”. “Veteran” for two reasons. Their constituents have been electing them for decades. And at Westminster, where dominated by careerists, there are too few young left wingers.
Jeremy Corbyn or Liz Kendall? That question is already answered.
Paul Flynn or Jess Phillips?
Dennis Skinner or Stephen Kinnock?

The point is that in 2015, the Labour “establishment” under-estimated Jeremy Corbyn. They never expected him to stand for Leadership and certainly didnt expect to bedefeated by a man who has never shown any desire to leave the back benches. But …he won. And he wont be forgiven.
With no election due until 2020, it would have been reasonable to give Corbyn three years at the top. He could have re-moulded Labour as a Party with a “social conscience” rather than a Party of “social climbing” and been allowed the dignity of stepping aside for a new Leader, who might win a Westminster Election…a person untainted by a Blairit past or Blairite patronage.
But the knives were out from Day One.
The post-EU Referendum Coup against Corbyn was an act of cowardice, accurately dubbed “The Chicken Coup”…the co-ordinated resignations. But arguably, there is a pragmatic side that this Parliament may not run its full term and the election will be closer than thought. And of course, still time for Blairites to sieze back control.
But the most striking thing about the “plotters” is their cowardice.
Corbyn has the support of just 40 MPs and there are 170 MPs against Corbyn.
But the “three pounders” are back again. It is entryism and it is not very edifying. If it goes to the “membership” Corbyn will win. But only if he is on the ballot paper.

This is where it gets complicated.
Angela Eagle will be a candidate. I suspect she has advice that Jeremy Corbyn does not have to be on the ballot paper. If so, I suspect Eagle is an agreed candidate and none of the 170 plotters will oppose her. This means that she will be elected unopposed…which avoids a scenario where she gets (say) 35% of the vote and A N Other gets (say) 14% and spoiled votes (ie people writing in “Corbyn”) accounts for 51% of the votes.
This is of course no more than a device to convince people that Eagle is the overwhelming choice (sic).
But that means a hell of a lot of the plotters will be de-selected.

The point that people have missed is that the “Left” is now the moderate mainstream of the Labour Party.
You may be aware that in the 1980s Neil Kinnock, Labour Leader lambasted the Liverpool Council (then in the grip of Militant Tendency) as being a “a Labour Council…a Labour Council …hiring taxis to deliver redundancy notices” to its own employees. Shameful.
But did you know that the big issue at the Durham Miners Gala is a Labour Council….a Labour Council ….sacking its own Teaching Assistants and offering them their jobs back with a 25% reduction in wages.
Jeremy Corbyn spoke in support of the Teaching Assistants. The other man in the pic is David Lindsay, friend and blogger who arranged a meeting between Corbyn and the Teaching Assistants.
Where are the plotters?
Perhaps Stephen Kinnock MP for a safe Welsh seat and heir to his father’s hereditary Welsh Windbag title) will take time off from advancing his career to condemn this Labour Council.

Labour dealt with the threat of Militant Tendency. It needs to deal with the Blairite Tendency. And…quickly.

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36 Responses to The Labour Leadership Chicken Coup

  1. Mary Martin says:

    Don’t you think that the Labour party and Conservative party should change the way its leaders are elected? The SDLP seem to have a sensible system.

    • Well, I think all Parties TALK about mass membership and encourage people to join and at the same time dont like the consequences.
      The Tories now wont be having a contest cos Loathsome has dropped out so effectively the 199 MPs who voted for May have selected their new Leader and Prime Minister. In fairness, thats a reasonable system….the MPS select two candidates to go on a ballot paper and the membership decides.

      The Labour Party has a chaotic system and I would expect legal challenges if Corbyn is not on the ballot paper. The people “joining” Labour -and taking no part in anything except a Leadership vote is a daft system.
      SDLP is also a bad system.
      It isa decision made by branches….Leadership candidates make a pitch for votes to local branches and the branches make a decision that they will vote for A, B or C.
      The branches then select delegates to vote for that person in a secret vote at Party Conference.
      The number of delegates that a branch sends to Conference depends on the size of the Branch.
      If every single SDLP member paid the annual subscription (and I have still not got round to paying 2016) we would have about 2,000 members. Obviously this includes a lot of extended family (its the SDLP core).
      But a small branch would be entitled to say 2 delegates plus 1 extra for every 10 membersabove say 20 (do not quote these figures as it is an example only).
      So a branch of say 45 members might have maybe 5 delegates at conference and pledged to vote in a certain way.
      But an area like Derry which has several branches….Northland, Shantallow, Waterside and some others.
      Likewise in South Belfast….there are branches in Ormeau, Finaghy, Balmoral.

      And there are pretty big branches in Armagh and South Down.
      COuncillors (about 65), MLAs (12) and MPs (3) are delegates at Conference in their own right.
      So typically there are around 375 delegates at a SDLP making decisions on behalf of about 2,000 members. This includes Leadership elections…but it also is the same for annual elections for the Party Executive.
      This means there is too much horse-trading about votes. And it (in my opinion) puts too much power in the hands of the big branches.
      The Party Executive usually has too many South Belfast and Derry members. Ofcourse some would say thats only natural because these are strong SDLP areas.
      Me….SDLP is the Party of “One man …One vote”.and thats how it should be.
      I will probably never be a SDLP delegate at ANY Conference. there are few places available,, which means I will never be heard at a Conference. My role in any Leadership or Deputy Leadership election will be confined to voting at a branch meeting and watch other delegates take that decision to a Conference.
      The people who are “in charge” of political parties ….Tory, Labour, SDLP etc have a vested interest in attracting members and limiting the power of members.

      • Mary Martin says:

        I think the SDLP system stops the party from electing someone who is attractive to ordinary members but who can’t win in the country. That is why the SDLP leadership process has generally went well.

        The Tory members selected Ian Duncan Smith when Michael Portillo would have been better in the country. The UUP members selected Tom Elliott when Basil McCrea would have been better viewed in the country. And the Labour members selected JC when one of the others would have been better. These three parties have bad systems.

  2. Wolfe tone says:

    There would have been a serious push for a general election this year by Labour if only they hadn’t carried out the attempted coup. In fact the coup plotters gave the tories breathing space and wriggle room. It would have been child’s play for Labour to claim the tories are in disarray and demanded a new election. Alas it seems amongst labour MP’s they had more pressing matters to attend to. It also exposes as lies, those remainer MP’s that the brexit was an ‘Armageddon’ issue. For if it were the case they’d have got down to work and upped their efforts to oust the tories. Ruling by fooling is more widespread than I thought.

    • Its shocking.
      If Corbyn is not on the ballot paper and Owen Smith actually does put his name forward, then that means a contest and the spoiled votes will be massive.
      And it means a lot of Labour MPs will be de-selected.
      The Labour Party is on “life support”.

  3. Mary Martin says:

    I think Angela Eagle will be elected leader and then a lot of angry members will leave and then there will be a fresh contest when Liz Kendall and David Miliband (who will replace Jo Cox) will be the candidates. Only that way can Labour win in the country and carry on the important work of Bevan, Atlee, Wilson, Blair, and Brown. Only when Labour is centre left does it do its best.

  4. Wolfe tone says:

    The coup leaders will destroy Labour. At the very least they should’ve given Corbyn a chance at a general election. If Corbyns supporters are ignored then just like they underestimated the brexit leavers feelings, they will vote with their feet and not vote for Labour at all, even if it means the tories getting power. It really does feel, just like US politics, that both main parties are two cheeks of the same establishment ass I.e they just pretend to dispise one and other.

    • This is especially true as Theresa May will be pushing the “compassionate Conservative” lie.
      It has the look of both Tory and Labour establishments looking after themselves and each other.
      Increasingly it looks like they will do anything to frame the political debate in very narrow terms. They fear their respectives Right and Left more than they fear each other.
      Tories feared their own members and caused the Loathsome campaign to implode. Labour fear their own members and I think they are steering this to a “no contest” …a contest Eagle versus Owen Smith would actually give a voice to the membership to “write in” their support for Corbyn.
      It is only fair that Corbyn is on the ballot paper. What the plotters are doing is a scandal and I think their next move will be to change re-selection rules.

  5. Wolfe tone says:

    Who is afraid of democracy? Well Angela Eagle is threatening to withdraw from leadership race if Corbyn is allowed on ballot! You couldn’t make this crap up. Is it any wonder people have a dim view of our so called democracy? Maybe the barrel of the gun folk were right after all.

  6. Mary Martin says:

    It is exciting that Owen Smith is standing. Hopefully he can displace JC and take the party forward. Then after a period of time David Miliband can return and hopefully the leadership election rules can be changed once and for all so that only MPs can determine who is leader.

  7. Mary Martin says:

    John I was thinking the SDLP could help by stating that it believes that the labour members should support a change of leader. The SDLP is interested in defeating the Conservatives and is a full PES member and works with Labour. So that by stating that Corbyn must go the SDLP would help defeat the Conservatives.

    • But what has British Labour ever done for us (or Irish Labour for that matter?
      As Mark Durkan said last week the Hand of History should be feeling someones collar (ie Tony B Liar).

  8. Wolfe tone says:

    Yip bring back David milliband once he has finished agitating in the Ukraine with his ‘humanitarian’ work? I agree. It is depressing.

  9. Wolfe tone says:

    The clowns and apologists for the chicken coup have forgotten that Gordon brown/milliband failed or hid from a general election. What makes them think they know how to win an election? Flying in razzmatazz politicians is simply treating the electorate as fools. The peasants will vote for a smooth politician rather than someone who isn’t……..maybe the peasants have wised up. Alas the apologists don’t want democracy to work if it goes against their interests. Pathetic.

    • Mary Martin says:

      Thing about Corbyn is he is not credible. Don’t forget: Labour has never won from the hard left.

      • No ….POlitics is a long game.
        Labour is not how it was. Dominated by careerists and posers. There is no material difference between mainstream Tories and mainstream Labour and I cant believe people like Cooper, Phillips, Kendall etc have any real affection for the working class and no real understanding.
        Corbyns role should have been to lead for three years and turn Labour into a party that re-connected with its roots.
        A hand over to (say Burnham) before the General Election would have been ideal but the plotters hated Corbyn too much.

  10. Mary Martin says:

    If Corbyn wins this leadership contest then its just a matter of time to the next challenge.

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