Next May’s elections will be the test for Corbyn. If he fails, its up to the PLP to act

by David Talbot

We are told that “something amazing happened” over the summer of 2015 in British politics. That the election of Jeremy Corbyn had “blown politics wide open”. As if it needed further reinforcement, the American actor Shia LaBeouf was said to exclaim “British politics just got very exciting”.  It is of course billed as the new politics, but is very much the old machine-style politics just with a Twitter handle.

Plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery after all, and after years of railing against Progress – a party within a party, we were so vehemently told – the left have their new vehicle: Momentum. Its raison d’etre was codified on the hallowed pages of Left Futures, now the Corbynistas headquarters, where the veteran Bennite Jon Lansman rather gave the game away,

And it will also campaign inside the Labour Party to change it into the campaigning organisation we need, rooted in communities and workplaces, a truly democratic party with polices to match the needs of the many not the interests of the few.

This is a positive outward-looking agenda and that is as it should be but there is a defensive agenda too. The fact that those who were threatening a coup until days before Jeremy’s victory stopped doing so when they saw the size of his majority does not mean that they have all changed their minds.

So not only is it an internal pressure group actively campaigning to change the Labour party from within, but it is Jeremy Corbyn’s praetorian guard. It is also somewhat telling that even the most devoted of his followers have already factored in his failure next May and likely leadership challenge. Momentum is clearly designed as a vehicle solely for the current Labour leadership, not for the party as a whole. Much of its database will be formed by anyone who had a spare £3 over the summer; a reform so wisely introduced by Ed Miliband, and as rightly noted during the leadership campaign, many of them have little or no affiliation with the Labour party. Were Progress to have a platform so brazen the left would go apoplectic.

Corbyn’s leadership clearly shouldn’t last the full five years until the next general election, every day he is in office the Labour party gets further away from power. He isn’t interested in the grubbiness of compromise over purity, and securing votes seem a long way down his list of priorities. His union allies declare losing the election was worth it, whilst his parliamentary champion – Clive Lewis – is applauded to the rafters when he tells conference even if the party loses the next election, it will have changed for the better. Corbyn might just survive given the fanatical nature of his support, and the disarray amongst Labour moderates.

The Labour party has traditionally been a movement to secure power on behalf of ordinary working people. Nothing puts it further away from that objective than the current leadership. Given that Labour moderates were roundly defeated over the summer, we cannot crow. Corbyn’s mandate, whatever the electorate, is significant. But his hold over the parliamentary party is weak.

The elections across London, Scotland and English councils next May will be the first test of Corbyn’s appeal beyond his hard-left bubble. If Labour slips to even worse than the thirty per cent it achieved this May, then the parliamentary party – who so erroneously put him on the ballot paper in the first place – need to decide whether Momentum’s purity is enough, or that the power to make a difference to peoples’ lives does matter after all.

David Talbot is a political consultant

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32 Responses to “Next May’s elections will be the test for Corbyn. If he fails, its up to the PLP to act”

  1. Dave says:

    Although David doesn’t mention it, there are also elections to the Welsh Senedd in May 2016 which may well provide a better barometer than Scotland (which is different) or London (where the personalities of the individual mayoral candidates have a big effect) for the ‘Corbyn effect’

  2. Terry Casey says:

    I would think if Corbyn is felled by a coup it would signal the end of the Labour Party from which they will never recover, if you think Scotland was bad try dethroning a leader 60% of the party voted for, The right of the Party are losing backing with every snipe and attack they make.

  3. paul barker says:

    What it comes down to is that the great majority of The PLP is in a very different place from the majority of Labour members. Thats not going to change quickly, if ever. The MPs can either accept this or leave.
    What, exactly, can The PLP do ? How can it force a Leadership Election on a Party that doesnt want one & what would be the point ? What makes The Moderates think they would do any better next summer ?
    The Left have different ideas about what makes sucsess or failure, losing a few councillors isnt going to change their minds.
    The moderates need to drop this ridiculous bluster & make up their minds – stay or go ?

  4. Janice says:

    Its an absurd situation where corbyn is arguing against tax credit cuts at pmqs while his supporters, including his policy adviser, are arguing that the very labour politicians who introduced them in the first place are red tories and not fit to be in the labour party.

    The whole rationale underpinning the corbyn leadership is absolutely bonkers, and as evidence grows that he is unelectable and damaging the party a proportion of those who voted for him will see it was a mistake. As disillusionment with him grows, which it will, it will become easier to get rid of him.

  5. peterleslie says:

    Paul says the PLP is in different place to ‘great majority of Labour members’. Well actually paid up full members circa 50% did not vote for JC it was mainly £3 supporters who formed the majority which got to 60%. With polling figures for Lab from ComRes down at unheard of 29% there are many of us waiting for something to happen and I think we would follow any initiatives our MPs suggested. Meanwhile I have withdrawn my extra funding of Labour as a 29% share vs Tory at 42% share says it all.

  6. peterleslie says:

    Polling of 2000 Brits reported last week end in the Sunday Indie: Lab 29% with the Cons on 42% shows a massive majority for Boris or Osborn at the GE. This is a joke and I have stopped my extra funding of Labour in protest at this political aberration.

  7. landed peasant says:

    The referendum on Corbyn is going to come a lot sooner than that, Meacher’s Oldham seat is considered safe, but has only been so under him, if that seat is lost look for JC to have a much harder time of things.

  8. Robert says:

    Blairites have stopped pretending that they support the Labour Party rather their own tiny faction. The PLP would be mad to remove Corbyn next May.

  9. Mr Akira Origami says:

    It will also be interesting how Corbyn-mania affects the Welsh Assembly elections in May next year.

    There are rumours that the Druids have declared a jihad on infidels……..

  10. Tim says:

    Corbyn is an attractive personality. In my household we now have the situation where my wife, who has never been a party member, is the only one who supports him. We know what’s going to happen in May. Labour will make a few small gains – the opposition party always do. The Lib Dems will look slightly better than expected, and no-one will be any the wiser. We knew in 2012 that Ed could not win in 2015, but we kept as if nothing could be done about it. The same was true about Brown – we surrendered before we even called the election. I see no reason to think that the party will not make the same mistake a 3rd time.

  11. Mike Homfray says:

    There will be no coup.

    MPS have to decide whether they want o move forward or not. Staying and compaining isn’t impressing anyone

  12. Feodor says:

    Another day, another god awful article on Labour Uncut, though the constant diet of pompous whinging from the artists formerly known as the Labour elite does have a certain comedic value.

    My favourite line from the above has to be: ‘Given that Labour moderates were roundly defeated over the summer, we cannot crow’—funny on so many levels, not least of which being that despite being resoundingly defeated in the leadership election, since the results were announced pretty much all the self-anointed ‘moderates’ have done is crow.

    Oh, to have the political insight of a ‘political consultant’…

  13. paul barker says:

    @peterleslie. Since Corbyns election some 60,000 new members have joined, its fair to assume that the vast majority are Corbyn supporters, probably raising his support among members to nearer 60%. Inevitably, some moderate members will drift away, further shifting the centre of gravity to the Left.
    By May the Labour moderates position will be even weaker than it is now.

  14. Tafia says:

    If the PLP move against Corbyn, the membership and the unions would exact a bloody revenge.

    The local elections are going to be dominated by national issues – particulalry the refugee/immigration issue, the EU and tax credits. It will be fought over those – not playgrounds, road claening and dustbiins.

  15. John P Reid says:

    The collapse if the libdems, saw labour do well in the 2012 council elections, plus the fact we did badly in the 2008 council elections due to Gordon Browns unpopularity, means that if labour get any sort of device rent result from 4 years ago, it can’t be due to Jeremy, but if the 2017 and 2018 council elections are equally good as bad it will show a trend,look at the London mayor GLA elections of 2012 and 2008′ labour gained extra assembly members, both times,and lost the anajoratly, despite livungstine getting more votes the two times he lost,than the two times he won,
    Plus, the are more than just local personality politics, places like Scotland, Rochdale, Rotherham, Oxford,all have outside influences as to whether labour will do bad, not Corbyn

  16. John PReid says:

    They’ll be an attempted coup in late 2018 ,but Corbyn may go,if he realizes that, he could lead labour to destruction and the left of the party won’t be forgiven, but who would take over, Lisa Nandy is too young, cruddas doesn’t want it,
    Y Cooper maybe,as she was nearly everyone’s second choice, but it would be a posion chalice

  17. Tafia says:

    I wrote this BEFORE the leadership election – right at the start of the campaign.

    “Next year, Labour will lose Glasgow council (a bastion) to the SNP as well as a swathe of others, and will be wiped out in Holyrood possibly finishing below the toriies (behind the Tories. In Scotland ffs). Labour will lose it’s majority in the Welsh Assembly and have to go into coalition with Plaid Cymru and will lose control of several previously unassailable councils. And none of that has got anything to do with Corbyn – quite the opposite, it’s to do with ignoring what your bedrock wants.”

    It has nothing to do with Corbyn, Same as Labour has already lost GE2020. It lost it when it made Brown the leader back in 2007.

  18. Tafia says:

    I wrote this BEFORE the leadership election

    Before the leadership vote that should be.

  19. JohnP Reid says:

    Tafia serious question, how well do you think the Tories will do in Wales?

  20. Tafia says:

    Tafia serious question, how well do you think the Tories will do in Wales?

    In the Assembly elections next year? They will remain static in share of vote. Their voter-base in Wales is largely unaffected by the tax credits saga. However, remaining static in a vote that is 50% based on party preference and 50% based on candidate in which there are 5 major parties doesn’t necesarily mean they will retain the same number of seats. That said, at the moment it looks like the only losers are going to be Labour and the only winners UKIP (largely at Labour’s expense). The others – Plaid, Lib Dems and the Tories look like they will remain roughly where they are now.

    This will result in a Labour minority in the Senedd and they will have to rely on either Plaid or the LibDems – depending on how things pan out, to get their legislation through.

  21. Tafia says:

    People also vote differently at different levels – with highly unpredictable results. For instance Ynys Mon (Anglesey) is a very good example. It is a self-contained at Parliamentary, Assembly and Council level yet it has a Labour MP, a Plaid Assembly member, and an independent council in which Labour only hold 2 of the 45 seats.

    Devolution has created voters who are more ‘aware’ of what each level of government is responsible for and vote in the main according to things affecting that level.

  22. John P Reid says:

    Thanks Tafia,as we both said earlier, the vote next year won’t be on, Jeremy’s popularity, but it’s not just how bad labour do,it’s also how well other centre right parties do, maybe the libdems will pickup,when ukips had the EU referndum, up north?

  23. Tafia says:

    Well it’s a strange state of affairs. UKIP relied heavily on the vote of incomers from England who were also anti-devolution.

    However UKIP have now come out firmly in the pro-devolution camp and now support bilingualism as well. (some would say a cynical move because they are pro and England Parliament and you can hardly be pro an England Parliament and anti-devolution in Wales.)

    As a result, a new party has formed led by a breakaway UKIP cadre that is anti-devolution. So it will be interesting to see how that pans out.

  24. Richard says:

    The right wing of the party better be sure of the mood within the party if they attempt a coup should we do badly at the polls next May, and they might just get the mood as wrong as they did when Corbyn was able to run first time around.

    First, who will get the the blame if we do badly? The right wing who left us the mess we are in and daily snipe and divide the party or Corbyn? I wouldn’t bank on it being Corbyn.

    Next problem they have is Corbyn, as far as I can see in the rules, will be able to run again should the PLP start a leadership election. If Corbyn wins the leadership election a second time this will give the left every excuse to respond to the war begun by the right. I would expect deselections to be the order of the day, and justifiably so.

    So Mr Talbot ought to be a little circumspect before offering advice to the PLP, though I think the right are so desperate to oust Corbyn before we transform the party rules and democracy that I doubt he will be.

  25. Mr Akira Origami says:

    “As a result, a new party has formed led by a breakaway UKIP cadre that is anti-devolution.”

    Well, you can’t accuse Dai Bevan of being an incomer from England………

  26. Tafia says:

    Origami, he seems to fail to understand basics (as do you, but we knew that anyway).

    Devolution in Wales cannot be undone without an Act of Parliament – and who dominates that? Oh yes, England. So unless England wants to scrap devolution for Wales then it’s a complete nonstarter.

    Fancy a referendum perhaps? Oh dear, needs an Act of Parliament (same problem as above) – and even then, referenda are purely advisory, they aren’t binding.

    Then there is the slight problem of the fact that England has now started it’s journey on devolution – so there isn’t anything for Wales to de-devolutionise back to anyway.

    Bizarrely, Wales’s only way to de-devolutionise is to seek full independence first, then seek re-admission back to the rump UK. There simply is no other way of doing it.

  27. Mr Akira Origami says:

    @ Tafia….

    I think your comment needs to be directed to Dai Bevan.

  28. Tafia says:

    Origami @ Tafia….I think your comment needs to be directed to Dai Bevan.

    I think the line “Origami, he seems to fail to understand basics” rather suggests it ios – unless you think ‘he’ means something else?

  29. Mr Akira Origami says:

    @ Tafia….. “as do you”.

    Dai Bevan’s political aspirations are not mine – I want to see Ukip flourish in the Welsh Assembly.

  30. Tafia says:

    You fail to grasp context. Difficult perhaps for you to understand but in regards to you surprisingly easy for most of the readership of this blog who know you of old. Never noticed that nearly everyone ignores you or just takes the piss?

    Seemingly, you also fail to realise that the overwhelming majority of the voters in Wales do and will continue to vote for pro-EU parties, and that that is not going to magically change. The majority of the voters next year will also vote for a party that wants more devolution to a greater or lesser degree and that is also something that is not going to change.

    All UKIP will achieve in the Welsh Assembly will be the creation of a Labour/Plaid Coalition with a larger Plaid contingent than last time, thus creating a Welsh Government that will demand more devolution and faster.

    Nobody is going to work with UKIP. The 4-6 AMs they get due to regional listing will be immediately isolated and ignored. And neither the Daily Post in the North nor the Western Mail in the South will do anything other than ridicule them, humiliate them and belittle them. Day after day after day.

    Because it’s funny.

    Nobody but nobody takes UKIP seriously and has no intention of doing. They are there to be marginalised and that is all.

  31. Mr Akira Origami says:


    You must be so frustrated that you can’t physically “gob” on me.

    “All UKIP will achieve in the Welsh Assembly will be the creation of a Labour/Plaid Coalition with a larger Plaid contingent than last time, thus creating a Welsh Government that will demand more devolution and faster.”

    What about the last coalition between Plaid and Labour? You can’t blame Ukip for that.

    Plaid’s leader Leanne Wood has said: “Labour rule had reduced Wales to a “second-class” nation.” The joke is, Labour and Plaid coalition will reduce Wales to a “third -class” nation.

    PS… Nice of you to highlight the bias in the Welsh media.

    PPS…Tafia, are you the guy on the left in Leanne Woods rent a mob ( 00.52)

  32. Mr Akira Origami says:


    Fuck the Daily post and the Western Mail……

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