Labour MPs have just blown their best chance to oust Corbyn

by Kevin Meagher

John McDonnell was right. ‘As plotters’ Labour MPs are ‘fucking useless.’

There was one decent attempt at challenging Jeremy Corbyn during this parliament and they have just blown it.

He needed to be exposed as a total electoral liability – both personally and in terms of the direction he has set for the party, repositioning Labour on the frozen wastelands of the hard left.

His lack of campaigning zeal during the EU referendum was supposed to be his Achilles Heel and pave the way for a successful challenge.

What a misjudgement.

The charge didn’t stick and the rows in the Conservative party have blotted out memories of what Corbyn did or didn’t do during the referendum.

This plot was doomed from the moment Hilary Benn was caught orchestrating dissent in the shadow cabinet and fired. Realising he had been rumbled, he should have quit first.

Then came the petulant ‘drip, drip’ resignations from his frontbench. This was designed to shame Corbyn into quitting. Fat chance. The tactic just left the electorate with the unmistakable impression Labour MPs are as immature as their leader.

Instead, those frontbenchers who passionately disagreed with Corbyn’s leadership should have acted with some dignity and resigned en masse. At the very least, it would have been more honourable.

The PLP’s subsequent vote of no confidence in his leadership – 172-40 – was not quite conclusive enough.

Then there was the mess of whether Angela Eagle or someone else should stand against Corbyn.

She managed a campaign launch before Owen Smith entered the fray and displaced her. Again, hardly the smooth handling of a well-oiled plan.

Owen Smith’s subsequent challenge – devoid of a big message or detailed critique of Corbyn – was another misfire.

He seemed to be trying to appeal to the insurgent new members by being as mad on policy as Corbyn with extra unforced gaffes like his odd formulation about wanting to ‘smash’ Theresa May ‘back on her heels’. Whatever that means.

He seldom appeared the grown up in the contest. Or the likely winner.

The message is simple. Jeremy Corbyn – both the man and the message – is too left-wing, too extreme, too eccentric, to ever appeal to a majority of the British people. In their heart of hearts all but the most implacable Corbynista knows this.

It doesn’t mean he’s a bad man (although plenty would disagree on that point) and it doesn’t even mean he’s wrong on some issues (hammering the greedy rail companies is fairly mainstream these days), but he’s simply the wrong blend for the British electorate’s tastes.

And it’s too late.

He won’t ever win the chance to make his case. Like Ed Miliband before him, the public have already weighed and measured Jeremy Corbyn and found him lacking. Everyone who has knocked on a door for Labour over the last 12 months already knows this.

They have him down as a weirdo who loves tyrants, hates Jews and wants to tax them, regulate them and boss them around. A typical nannying, gesture-politicking, 1980s throwback.

A man who won’t sing the National Anthem at ceremonies for war veterans and can’t even do up a tie properly. And whose own colleagues nearly all agree that he’s useless.

Someone surrounded by posh-boy hard left apparatchiks who are plying the same old Vanguardist nonsense, abusing the Labour party as a means to bring about their tin pot revolutionary socialist wet dream.

It is fantasy, utter mind-bending LSD-induced fantasy, to imagine him stood on the steps of Downing Street.

Unless it’s to hand over a petition.

This realisation will hit Labour like a wrecking ball in 2020 – too late to avert calamity as the party loses scores of seats – and with hundreds of Labour councillors sacrificed between now and then.

Party members will catch on eventually, or at least enough of them to bring the party back into balance.

So the moment to strike was when Corbyn had supplied an unequivocal track record of electoral failure. He needed space to fail on his own terms, as he surely would.

Perhaps after next May’s local elections. Or in 2018. Or when a by-election was badly lost (as, invariably, they will be).

In other words, when it was crystal clear that his appeal is limited to infantile students, grievance junkies, crypto-revolutionaries and men in their fifties who still wear t-shirts.

In their panic, Labour MPs have shot their bolt early and missed. Things needed to be a bit worse before they could become a lot better.

So Corbyn lives to fight another day.

With mandatory reselection now looming into prospect, many of his foes in the parliamentary Labour party will not.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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15 Responses to “Labour MPs have just blown their best chance to oust Corbyn”

  1. Mark Livingston says:

    Labour’s Tory-lites don’t have any policies other than an instinct to attack the weak and vulnerable. If they were back in charge, we really would be unelectable.

  2. Eddie Clarke says:

    1. The PLP was unable to put up anyone able to articulate a convincing alternative to what is call ed globalised neoliberalism.
    2. Except for Jeremy Corbyn, who has enheartened many thousands of present, ex- and new members.
    3. He has twice been elected leader with impressive and increasing majorities
    4. Nearly 200,000 members are unimpressed or worried by Jeremy’s leadership style, policies or associates.
    5. People who voted Labour at the last election are even less impressed
    6. MPs overwhelmingly find him impossible to work with, largely because of his lacklustre performance in the role.
    7. Jeremy thinks leadership means command. Respect my mandate! He seems unwilling to give the MPs any role in forming the Parliamentary opposition.
    8. 300,000 current members or supporters think Jeremy’s brilliance is being obscured by uncooperative MPs.
    9. Among them is a well-organised project to re-fashion party procedures to weaken the role of MPs, giving more power to mass gatherings, in support of the Leader principle.
    10. There is no effective counterbalance to them in the Party, electoral disaster will not disconcert them, as they have a wider project in mind, and only the lukewarm will desert them. Their future will be like their past – futile, self-indulgent posturing, awaiting the revolution. But this time in charge of the Labour Party.
    We need common purpose among the MPs to give hope to embattled CLPs.

  3. Delta says:

    When the deletions begin, and the next instalments of “disloyalty” are dealt with by Corbyn and his fruitcake loones, would the editor of this site please quote the comments of “moderate” idiots as they leave please.
    I want to see if they actually realise what’s going on when it happens…just to see how deep their stupidity, ignorance and divorce from reality actually is.

  4. Tafia says:

    The leadership contest first. Have a little think. The choice was between a left wing mild man with a beard and a faux left wing mild man in spectacles with identical policies and Trident. The overwhelming bulk of the membership therefore voted for a left wing candidate. Taking it further, if it had been a centre right candidate – such as Cooper or Umanna etc Corbyn’s win would have been even bigger.

    The PLP are going to have to accept that the membership is far further to the left of the political spectrum than they are – by a country mile. They are also going to have to accept that One Man, One Vote means exactly that and is not going to change for a very very very long time. Therefroe the PLP either accepts that or it goes and recruits members of the same persuasion as them – around 500,000 or so should do it and if they believe in themselves so much they should have absolutely no problem.

    That lives the PLP for the very immediate futire with three choices and three choices only:-

    1. Accept it. Rally round Corbyn and start selling his policies to the public at large.
    2. Resign the whip AND leave the party.
    3. Resign your seat, foerce a by-Election and stand as an independent/under another flag.

    The PLP has shown itself to be petulant, childish, self-centred, selfish and above all absolutely f***ing useless at party politics. In fact they have made a laughing stock of themselves.

    Corbyn will lose in GE2020. No matter who was leading Labour would lose – the socio-economic conditions are not right for a labour victory and May’s government isn’t discredited. Corbyn will then resign. By then the Labour Party will be a totally different beast and the next leader won’t be McDonnell. I forecast a second round victory over Dan Jarvis of……Clive Lewis (who is definately one to watch.

  5. paul barker says:

    Yes Labour Centrists are a useless bunch, at least their “Leaders” are, but its not just the lack of Political insight or their cowardice. The reason Corbyn won is that the alternative presented was empty, devoid of principles, ideology or passion. Plus the fact that most of the prominent Centrists had spent 5 years attacking The Libdems for being Centrists & 5 years sucking up to The Left.
    You lost & you deserved to lose, what you need to do now is face up to what has happened & make some real choices. No more silly bluster about staying to fight.

  6. DJ says:

    In the other article on this site following the result yesterday it says this…

    “In the thirty-two years he was an MP before winning the leadership, he remained doggedly in the party, despite his hard left corner of the party being marginalised and discounted.”

    Corbyn said in the original leadership election that labour needs to be a broad church, others have since followed and yesterday Corbyn again called for unity and focus on the task at hand.

    If labour wants to win in 2020 it needs to recognise that to be a broad church you need the right, centre and left of the party working together because they believe what unites them is better for the country. It’s time to work with Corbyn and create a winning team, or allow people like Kendal to be called the loony left in 2025. Your choice.

  7. buttley says:

    This is a very bitter piece, and these words

    “infantile students, grievance junkies, crypto-revolutionaries and men in their fifties who still wear t-shirts.”

    are just lazy & snide,

    500,000 ordinary people have backed Corbyn of late.

    Its as inaccurate and cliched as saying all Corbyn Haters are Scottish dwarfs, Israel worshipping Morrissey-a-likes, or weak willed no necks who eat their own lard.

    same old same old, playing the man, not the ball as usual.

  8. Mike Homfray says:

    Problem is that many of us will simply not vote for the sort of centrist party you prefer under any circumstances – and its no good talking about ‘letting the Tories in’. Tried that one, and it doesn’t add up any more

  9. anosrep says:

    “He needed to be exposed as a total electoral liability”

    That was always going to be tricky, given that he led Labour from seven points behind at last year’s general election to one point ahead in the first UK-wide since then, a year later.

    Still, it’s nice to see a right-winger (sorry, “moderate”) admit that “Hilary Benn was caught orchestrating dissent in the shadow cabinet” – some still try to deny that and pretend that Corbyn sacked him for no good reason. Though I see you’re still peddling the lie that Corbyn wants mandatory reselection.

  10. Anon says:

    The reason that the PLP can not attack Mr Corbyn’s so-described damaging policies, is because it would reflect upon the Labour Party itself.

    The Labour Party now no longer represents the people it was set up to serve and protect. The wholesale and institutional sexual abuse of thousands of white, working class girls was allowed in order to harness the votes of the perpetrators.

    Whether the Labour Party realizes it or not, it’s not about the local hospital or the economy; this time it’s personal. Labour believes that the white, working class in this country can now be replaced.

    Corbyn, or any other cut-out New World Order clown, will make no difference to this perception. What Labour will have to do is wait for the older working class to die off; so low is my opinion of the Labour Party now, that I wouldn’t put it past them to try to hasten that process. They have certainly spent a lot of time and resources demonising the older people in this country.

  11. Peter Kenny says:

    Kevin, I see you are taking defeat in a reflective and graceful way.

    I speak as a man in his fifties who still wears a T shirt!

    What an unpleasant, negative article this is.

    See my comment on Atul’s piece which offers you a way forward, although writing like this makes me wonder if you ever could take it.

  12. John P Reid says:

    Mike Homfray the tried that once ‘about letting the Tories in’ is due to those who voted corbyn, choose to believe chunky Mark and the Canary, not those who remember the 1992 election.

    You say Many of us won’t vote for centrist policies, I take it you mind millions and millions, as there are even more millions who won’t vote for far left policies

    Not that I voted for Owen, I abstained and. In. Fact if it was between say Chuka Ummuna and Jeremy id have voted for Jeremy

  13. madasafish says:

    Any party which allows a Party Official to suggest in public l that an MP “should be lynched” – and does not discipline him – is a disgrace.

    The fact that it is a second offence without any action suggests it is encouraged.

    Not really the way to win voters or sympathy..

    Labour are now trying to be now the official “nasty party”.

  14. Martin says:

    I consider myself moderate left. I’m no Corbyn fan but I don’t think he’s had a fair crack of the whip. I didn’t find Owen Smith inspiring enough to want to vote for him. I find the name-calling directed at fellow Labour Party members in this article offensive and off-putting. Some of these people are my friends, and they don’t fit any of the gross stereotypes mentioned. Insulting them like this makes me more sympathetic to Corbyn and his project, not less.

    While we’re on the subject of juvenile behaviour, can Mark Livingston cut the “Tory Lite” crap please? It’s a lazy cliché, and again it doesn’t apply to any of the people I know who sincerely believe that in order to regain power, Labour needs to tack to the centre in certain policy areas. I may not agree with them all the time, but they are certainly nowhere near being Tories.

    Tafia has it right. The next election is probably a write-off, and we need to be playing a long game. That means a grown up debate, to which we will all soon be able to contribute thanks to our newly re-elected leader, who will be leading us into the next election.

  15. Andrew says:

    I am have never voted Labour and with Jeremy Corbyn and his group of brainwashed followers leading the party i won’t in the future. I admire the Labour party and need it to be a strong opposition to keep the government honest. Returning Labour to the bad old days of 1970’s politics is not the answer and a once great party will diminish with every passing day.

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