by Samuel Dale
This is it. Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to fight on despite 81% of his parliamentary party expressing no confidence in his leadership. He’s shown his true colours today by drawing an equivalence between Israel and the Islamic State.
It’s time for members and supporters to fight.
The legal advice around whether he can get on the ballot for a membership vote is vague but irrelevant. As Atul Hatwal explained, he has to be on the ballot. He has to be defeated.
Ordinary members, and £3 sign-ups have to defeat Corbyn in a full election. That is the only way we can put the nightmare behind us.
This is going to incredibly difficult – perhaps impossibly so. But we have to try and here are some positives and negatives to consider.
Firstly, the latest YouGov poll shows 54% of Labour voters do not want Corbyn to resign compared to 35% who do. That’s voters, not members.
Despite the ludicrous unreliability of polling today, especially YouGov, it should give pause for thought. There is clearly still strong Corbyn support in the party.
Moreover, the Corbynistas are even better prepared this time. Momentum has been getting ready for this day since Corbyn was elected. They are already trying to expand the membership and affiliates beyond last September to tilt it in favour of him. They will also have the union might behind them as Len McCluskey bows to fears of his own leadership.
But, importantly, there is a glimmer of hope. This is not September 2015 and Corbyn is not some unknown fresh face who promises a brighter future.
He has been tested and he has been found wanting. We must not lose faith in rationality in politics and have to take apart his hopeless record.
Electorally. We are still trailing the Tories in every poll despite a vicious Brexit campaign that has divided their cabinet and a leadership contest that is taking back-stabbing to new levels. The first time a new leader has lost seats in local elections for the first time in decades.
Leadership. He has failed every test of national leadership such as his chaotic and heartless response to the Paris attacks last year and shoot to kill comments.
The Vice documentary showed a man utterly out of his depth with no political awareness and a shambolic team of amateurs giving him abysmal advice often ignored for even worse action.
He has been unable to managed his shadow cabinet, build bridges with his enemies or manage the media in any professional way.
He is physically scruffy and makes basic mistakes (or deliberately pathetic provocations) such as not singing the national anthem or flirting with wearing a white poppy at the Cenotaph.
Policy. He has barely launched a single policy, so much for the wealth of left-wing ideas we were expecting. I like policy and would love to hear a fizz of ideas even from the hard left but it hasn’t happened. The best moment – genuinely – was John McDonnell’s Socialism with an iPad speech and it was still shockingly poor.
He sabotaged the EU referendum campaign because he clearly wants to leave the EU as he has been saying it for 30 years. He lied about his support because it suited him politically.
Opposition. He has completely failed to hold the government to account whether at PMQs or on individual policy matters despite a slim majority of just 12.
There is an election within the next 12 months and the Tories are divided. Labour could conceivably end the Tory majority with a proper leader in charge. It is not impossible and that should focus the mind.
Last year, Labour members were grieving after an election defeat and the gloom about Labour’s prospects was the dominant theme. Frankly, that gloom has lifted with the Tory party leadership and Brexit result. This vote will not be a howl of despair but a choice of proper leader.
And there is a large group of embittered remainers who blame Corbyn, rightly, for his sabotage of the pro-EU campaign. Some put the percentage of Corbynista remainers as high as 82% and they are feeling the pain of exit just as keenly as the rest of us. It’s a ray of hope.
MPs from all sides of the party – right, soft-left and left – have come together to say: enough. This is not about left or right within Labour.
It is not about Blarites or Milibandites. When Owen Jones and Liz Kendall, Richard Murphy and Tony Blair, are all in agreement then you know it’s serious. It is simply about fitness to govern.
Labour MPs know this is going to be a hard battle. They know the severity of the case by uniting around one old hand, whether that be Tom Watson or Angela Eagle.
Whoever they choose is largely irrelevant, it is the anti-Corbyn candidate of basic competence who commands parliamentary support.
Now centrist members have to do our part too and sign up as many people as we possibly can to back the anti-Corbyn candidate.
It only takes £3 and everyone needs get as many friends and family involved as possible. If everyone signs up 20 people then it helps.
More than that, we need to get properly organised with phone banking, door to door knocking and proper campaigning.
Sam Dale is a financial and political journalist