Labour’s general election campaign will be dominated by the battle to succeed Corbyn

by Atul Hatwal

The shock of the election announcement is already subsiding. The grim reality is clear.

A common expectation across the PLP is that Labour will lose 70 to 80 seats, reducing Labour’s Westminster representation from 231 (232 including Simon Danczuk) to around 150, its lowest level since 1931.

Jeremy Corbyn is not going to be prime minister. He’s not going to be Labour leader by close of business on June 9th.

The primary purpose of the general election campaign, for a doomed Labour party, will be as a prologue to the leadership election that is now inevitable over summer – the third year running that Labour has voted on its leader.

Brexit will define everything.

During the general election campaign, Labour’s frailties on Brexit will be brutally exposed.

Keir Starmer might have set some tests for what constitute acceptable terms for Brexit but Labour’s current position is that the party would not vote against the final deal, regardless of whether the tests have been met or not.

This position will fall apart over the coming weeks.

It’s inconceivable that Labour spokespeople can make a case that Theresa May is pushing for a hard Brexit that would wreck the lives of Britons while saying in the same breath that the party would not oppose such a deal in the final vote.

Theresa May will ask for a mandate for negotiating Brexit, the Lib Dems will oppose it, Labour will dither in the middle.

I’ve written before that Labour’s members and supporters are stridently anti-Brexit.

Polls suggest that two thirds of Labour voters would vote to Remain in the EU if the referendum were rerun.  For party members and supporters, party officials estimate that this rises to over 80% and among those that vote in a leadership election – which is skewed towards the big city constituencies – pro-European sentiment is likely north of 90%.

A muddled general election campaign, culminating in a disastrous result, punctuated by a clear Lib Dem revival will provide the context for Labour’s impending leadership election.

Labour’s leadership  voters will be frustrated and looking for clarity and passion from the party’s next leader.

Within the Labour party, the general election campaign will destroy the idea that Labour can and should offer the Tories a guarantee not to oppose their Brexit plans.

Adherents of this line who harbour leadership aspirations such as Lisa Nandy and Yvette Cooper, beware.

It will also provide a platform for pro-European potential future leaders to offer members and supporters the leadership they want.

Who, from Labour’s pro-European wing, can shine in the general election campaign and capture the  imagination of members and supporters.

Clive Lewis, Heidi Alexander, Stella Creasy and Lillian Greenwood have all been talked about as pro-European standard bearers. Others could emerge.

A breakout star from the general election campaign could carry that momentum through to victory in the leadership election.

For Labour, battle is about to be joined. Just not in the national contest that Theresa May called this morning.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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25 Responses to “Labour’s general election campaign will be dominated by the battle to succeed Corbyn”

  1. Just Cann says:

    Labour party members will only elect someone with exactly the same politics as Corbyn. If the right wing of the labour part try to fix it so no one from Corbyn type of left get on the leadership ballot paper then the part will learn what it means to make labour party members angry.

  2. Tafia says:

    It will be Starmer – who is actually pizz-poor useless, Burnham – who is well past sell-by, or Rebecca Long-Bailey – who is Stalin without bollocks.

  3. Timmy says:

    Why do you think a general election defeat will change his plan to hang on until the Leadership election rules have been changed?

  4. No game is ever over till the final whistle. While the future is not rosy, the danger for May is that she loses her majority. Then other options come on board.

    But for the moment abandon the internal party feuding, it is a luxury ordinary people cannot afford. Use this site for looking at issues of principle. Why have the right made so many inroads across Europe? If we are to have a European wide political culture, and that is desirable, why is nationalism gaining so much ground?

    Trevor FIsher,

  5. Anne says:

    I like Kier Starmer – he has a clear understanding of Brexit and will be a good negotiator.
    I am not too sure that this election will be as cut and dry for the Conservatives as is being predicted. Look at their record so far. Teresa May – very controlling and surrounded by a small group of right wingers. She has not engaged Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland in Brexit negations. Her friendship with Trump is dubious- he is unpredictable and could plunge into a Third World War. Boris Johnson – the class clown – very poor performance as foreign secretary. Teresa May’s education policy – introduction of grammar schools is unpopular with education experts. No solutions to NHS crisis. Cuts to councils affecting social care. Hammond’s poor budget- is he up to the job. Not a good record so far.

  6. anosrep says:

    And there I was thinking it would be dominated by the battle to elect a Labour government.

  7. Ydoethur says:

    This article unfortunately makes one highly reckless assumption. It talks about the next Labour leadership campaign and the possible candidates, without considering that all three mentioned are vulnerable if Labour goes down to 150 seats:

    Clive Lewis – surely toast in Norwich with even a modest Lib Dem revival;

    Lisa Nandy – will struggle against John Hemming, who was one of the more surprising casualties of the 2015 cataclysm;

    Yvette Cooper – Pontefract is officially safe, but a swing on the scale of 2010 plus a squeeze on UKIP might see her just pipped at the post. It’s the 78th safest Labour seat, but it’s also in the north where whispers suggest Labour are doing worse than at any time since the war.

    One thing we must remember is that it will not be the ablest, but the survivors who rebuild. Much as in the Conservatives in 1997 where the obvious centrist (Rifkind) and right winger (Portillo) were ousted, leaving the battle between Clarke on the left and Hague on the right. We all know how that ended…

  8. buttley says:

    Keir Starmer & his six tests, just reminds me of the Salem witch trials.

    But imagine how impressive they would be, illuminated into the back of a kitchen worktop.

    Like Moses but for Breggsit.

  9. Tafia says:

    Anne She has not engaged Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland in Brexit negations.

    Errrm, I live in Wales and here at least she has very much engaged with Labour Wales, who are far more pro-Brexit than the main Labour party

  10. Tafia says:

    Let the reselections commence………..


  11. Tafia says:

    and the possible candidates, without considering that all three mentioned are vulnerable if Labour goes down to 150 seats

    There is no requirement for any party leader to be a sitting MP.

  12. Anon says:

    As Momentum are supposed to be Corbynite entryists, and Corbyn is at heart a Leaver, just exactly where do Labour stand on the EU?

    It just seems to me that it is OK talking about certain percentages of Labour supporters being for remaining in the EU, but unless it has escaped the author’s attention, millions of people have deserted Labour – some for UKIP.

    Does Mr Hatwal actually believe that a pro-EU Labour MP is going to suddenly persuade those millions back?

  13. paul barker says:

    So your Election Slogan is : “Vote Labour so they can continue their Civil War.”
    Not very attractive is it ?
    Wouldnt it be quicker for Pro-Europe Labour Centrists to just join The Libdems now & urge Ex-Labour voters to follow them ?

  14. John P Reid says:

    Corbyn will go due to the fact he doesn’t actually want to do it
    The timing of the election is a disaster, if it had been a year later then the far left currently calling the shots/Usung their groups to take over control of CLPs would have no one to blame for the defeat, but as he’s only been leader for 20 months,they’ll say he didn’t have time to get his policies sorted before the election ,

    As such,they’ll insist on a Corbynista replacement, Rebecca Long Bailey mRixhard Brigan, Angela rayner or thornberry

    If the new leader is still trying to argue of a Corbista Utopia that will never happen by the time of Brexit in March 2019 that again will seem like we’re on the wrong side of history
    Atul is wrong to say that most of the membership are anti Brexit,all the remainers I know, have a concede and move on attitude,actually think Commonwealth immigration would be better because common wealth values are closer to UK ones(nothing wrong with European peoples motility, just it’s different to our own) and that with Brexit,it’s a case of soverignity that we can argue for Socialism.

    Fact was, I was hoping that either if Corbyn had stayed another year we’d been heavily defeated the hard left could never blame the right of the party for the defeat ,like they hwve constantly since 1983′ or better we could have ousted Corbyn, got in Jon Cryer or Tom Watson as the unity candidate

    The blue labour, frank Field,Kate hoey wing that in the past can appeal to ex labour voters who voted Libdem ,in 2005 or will vote Ukip now, won’t come back for any corbynista ,they won’t come back,for even Yvette cooper or kier starker, barrister, Barry Garduner style bollocks

    Co bye will go and then labour will massively lose the 2018 London council elections in outer London and Corbyn won’t take the blame although him letting momentum thugs take over the party will be the reason,and if a corbynista replaces him,they won’t take the blame for 2018′ saying they haven’t had long enough to get settled in the job

    I estimate labour will get 160 MP unless we lose any to the libdems?

  15. John P Reid says:

    Interesting that Clive Lewis could lose it, there were swing from labour to tory in Norwich in 2010 will Tores tactically vote Libdem?

  16. 080617 says:

    Yvette Cooper will be a candidate and will be supported by Watson ,Harman,et al

  17. Duffminster says:

    Is it coincidence that Putin is cheering for Brexit, Fascist Right Wing or Communist Authoritarian Leaders in Western Democracies? Are you concerned that the same technology that Helped Put-In Trump at the U.S. White House was used to help pass the BREXIT Referendum? With Trump telling the bloodthirsday Egyption dictator el sissi “great job” and congratulating Erdogan as Turkey becomes the first Dicatorship in NATO; it should be apparent to critical thinkers that there is an active effort to move the world into tyranny. Public citizens, please research on the Kremlin’s support of Brexit, “right wing parties” and just look at what is happening in the UK, US, and France and the work of Russian bots and Cambridge Analytica. Then get the word out and do what you can to save Democracy, Freedom and Western Alliances from the machinations of the would be Plutocratic Dictators who find democracy an impediment to their world domination ambitions won’t you? Unite and Conquer.

  18. Ydoethur says:


    I refer you to Clause VII, 1a(II) of the Labour rule book:

    The leader and deputy leader of the Labour Party shall be elected or re-elected from among the members of the PLP.

    So you are entirely wrong in your comment. Anyone who loses their seat is instantly ineligible for the leadership.

    Full booklet is here:

  19. John P Reid says:

    080617 yes she will and Jon Cryer probably,sayigtg that the fact that Harman will back her may be off putting after Harmans recent twaddle

    sending her kids to private school she can afford to have to morality she wishes to place on other people

    Harriet Harman said 20 mins in on the radio 4 equality documentary on15th April 10pm
    That thosw who don’t take paternity leave should be discredited excludes those who are self empolyed they might not have a sympathetic boss, then there’s the morality to have a”shame society” the fact she thinks with her middle class life style she can encourage others who haven’t been seen to have done anything illegal by law as ‘Discrediting them’ in a shame society

    her nonsense about anonymity for rape accused being bad

    and and saying rape accuser sex past shouldn’t be revealed
    When it’s one person word against another a judge quite rightly could acquit if the accuser had ,had a drink and their testimony could be thrown out, judges are already very good at not revealing irrelevant evidence Mike Mansfield Qc twice has seen people cleared pf killing police, due to arguing the accused was acting in self defence(mark lambie ) and Kenneth noye for plane clothes PC john Fordham who’d climbed over his fence thought he was a burglar stabbed him to death 40 times, and then when Noye faced a separate murder charge for stabbing a M25 road rage incident Steven Cameron, noye brought up” you’re only prosecuting me, because i was cleared of killing the PC, 25 years earlier to which the prosecution and the judge were told we’d not even mentioned it ,it was Irrelevant

    In the Ched evans case, like a judge thinking if a accuser was so drunk her testimony couldn’t be reliable she’d throw the case to, that it has to be beyond reasonable doubt, same as if it was relevant that the woman who the prosecution believed had been raped when drunk by ched Evans had said consciously to him,” put it in me harder” that where she’d said the exact same words to other people while having sex” it was relevant because those exact words proved she had said it as she’s said the same thing twice before
    and when the private prosecution by steven Lawrence parents for murder collapsed due to the judge throwing out before he’d said it Lawrence witness Dwayne brooks statement, Doreen Lawrence said that the jury should have heard the evidence ,they may have still aqutitted the three accused ,but should have heard it
    this is an example that in the Ched evans case,had he not been allowed to have the witness statements of the previous lovers, then the judge would have thrown the case out ,without hearing evidence, and same as Doreen Lawrence accusation, that the jury should have heard it, if the jury had of found evans guilty it would have been their choice but without the accused being allowed to put up a defence judges will throw more cases out

    so rather that it seeing higher conviction, if judges feel they have no choice but to throw out cases, then it will see lower conviction rates

  20. paul barker says:

    Corbyn has already made it plain that he will stay on (if he keeps his Seat) however bad the results are. How are Centrists going to force him to go ? Get The PLP to pass a motion of No-Confidence ?
    Labour is dying. Let it die & be replaced.

  21. Esmee Phillips says:

    “Jeremy Corbyn is not going to be prime minister. He’s not going to be Labour leader by close of business on June 9th.”

    Just as Jeremy Corbyn was never going to get on the ballot for the leadership, and then when he did, Jeremy Corbyn was going to finish a bad fourth. It’s all in Labour Uncut, 2015.

    (Mystic Hatwal- he sees all. World Copyright).

  22. buttley says:

    Mystic Hatwal, the King Canute of our time.

  23. Martin says:

    If the parliamentary party is down to 150, how many MP’s signatures are needed to get one of Corbyn’s people on the nomination papers?

  24. John P Reid says:

    With anti social behavoir out of control, no police,and the public angry that people are terrorizing their estates they’re starting talking about bringing the law into their own hands, when those accused of rape, yet haven’t been found guilty, are named they have their reputations destroyed,even by Harriet Hartman refers to them to as perpetrators after acquittals ,and those who make the allegation, not to have been found to happened as victims,and that they were the subject of a rape ,a clear reason why we need to have anonymity for rape accused,
    With shaming those who don’t fit into middle class liberals view of the world,or discrediting those who can’t afford to have child care
    The snobbery of clamping down, will see vigilantes killing those wrongly accused of rape
    And Vigilantes due to the lack of polciing the cuts in stop and search that have seen anti social behoaviour go out of control,due to a mixture of cutting neighbourhood polciing to cutting he police and due to political correctness saying no stop and search and we shouldn’t be too hard on young offender.

    This leads to the sort of vigilantism, The Islamic terrorism, the victim hood making people feel blameless, means We are at war cant afford the morality she demands

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