The battle for the survival of Labour is on. Members have to fight

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

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25 Responses to “The battle for the survival of Labour is on. Members have to fight”

  1. John P Reid says:

    I’ve given my labour fee for 29 years, last few years it’s £49′ now my Union isn’t affiliated,it’s unfair that non labour union members, who are affiliated, get to give their few quid,and get a big a vote as me, we should ignore union money, just key members vote
    I realize Jez would gave got 49.5% in the first round, but only members should vote
    And look how many moderates have left/been bullied out in the last year

  2. buttley says:

    my goodness, what a lot of assertions the author makes

    1. But, importantly, there is a glimmer of hope – surely thats subjective

    2. He has been tested and he has been found wanting – by whom, for what?

    3. He has failed every test of national leadership – which were?

    4. He is physically scruffy – you say that like its a bad thing?

    5. He has barely launched a single policy – can i counter that by saying “sure start” repeatedly?

    6. He sabotaged the EU referendum campaign – by being nuanced?

    7. He has completely failed to hold the government to account – unlike the 184 mp who abstained from the second reading of the welfare reform & work bill.

    8. There is an election within the next 12 months – 2020 last time i looked.

    9. This is not about left or right within Labour – so disingenuous

    10. It is simply about fitness to govern – demonstrate it intellectually then

    well good luck recruiting the 350,000+ new supporters you will need to remove Corbyn with

  3. Pete Kenny says:

    Stop chuntering and get on with it!

    What’s the plan if Corbyn wins?

  4. Eamonn says:

    I suppose the biggest worry is what happens when as seems likely, Corbyn wins in the forthcoming leadership election. Given the vast legion of £3 a time far left activists who have joined the party over the past year or so and the likelihood that their numbers will increase ahead of the vote, I can’t see any realistic chance of a moderate candidate succeeding. What then? I sincerely hope that the rebels don’t back down, as that would be effectively handing over control of the party to the far left, who would most likely go all out to deselect anyone who doesn’t support their agenda. Better to breakaway and try to create a new centre left party rather than to stay and be gradually picked off. The Labour Party is lost I fear and the rebels owe it to the country at large to provide a viable, electable alternative. I just hope that they have the courage to do so.

  5. Feodor says:

    It does look like Corbyn’s position has become untenable, largely because his internal critics have proven so fanatical and destructive in their opposition.

  6. Sam, you said you were going to vote for David Cameron in the next general election. Now that he is going, do you have a preference for who gets your vote? May or Gove, or someone else?

  7. Toby Ebert says:

    Samuel should ask himself: does he accept the right of non-Jewish people to criticise the government of Israel? I suspect not.

    Jeremy Corbyn did NOT draw an equivalence between Israel and IS; the comparison was made by the author of the report, who explcitly stated that she was comparing the difficulties faced by Jews and Muslims (not Israel and IS) in societies such as ours where racism lurks beneath the surface.

    Samuel, ask yourself, is there ANYTHING that Corbyn could do to prove to you that he is not anti-Semitic?. If there isn’t then your belief is irrational.

  8. Henrik says:

    As I think I may have mentioned before, in my eyes Jeremy Corbyn is the best possible leader for the Labour Party and I sincerely hope, with all my heart, that he stays leader until the next General Election – and I shall do whatever I can to bring that happy state of affairs about.

    Worth noting here, though, that I’m not a Labour voter and probably don’t have your best interests at heart.

  9. Mark Livingston says:

    The Blairites are determined to destroy the Labour party. They are as much a part of the Establishment as the Duke of Edinburgh. Labour are actually ahead of the Tories in the opinion polls. Yet the Blairite Tory-lites are inflicting all this damage on the party.

  10. Anon E Mouse says:

    “The legal advice around whether he can get on the ballot for a membership vote is vague but irrelevant.”

    The fact that Labour supporters would even consider not putting the leader’s name in the ballot says absolutely everything that is wrong about the party at the moment.

    David Lammy actually advised the government should ignore the electorate over the referendum. Labour should immediately expel him from the party for that sort of treachery against his employers the voters.

    I am a party member who obviously voted to leave (no way was I going on the same side as the bankers and spivs) and I will tell you this. If you continue to take party members for fools the thing is over.

    It’s already gone in Scotland, in minority in Wales and 70% of the Leave vote was in Labour heartlands.

    If you continue to represent the wealthy against the working class with your mass immigration nonsense stand by for Nigel Farage to destroy the party in the country.

    You are not representing your voters. Corbyn should be on the ballot where he will thrash you again and frankly it serves you all right. You have ignored and patronised us for years and continue to do so. Act quickly and act decisively and show some bloody leadership for once.

  11. paul barker says:

    So what happens if you lauch The Leadership contest, The Tories finish their contest in a few weeks & The New PM calls for an Election ? Does The PLP oppose the Election & look undemocratic or support it & find themselves fighting each other & The Tories at the same time ?
    What if Corbyn wins again ? You have wasted another 3 Months & nothing is settled. I know its painful but you should all admit that Labour is now 2 Parties in all but name.

  12. Mark Livingston says:

    “The right of the labour movement, to be honest, has no ideas of any compelling quality, except the instinct for short-term political survival. It would not know an ideological struggle if it stumbled across one in the dark. The only ‘struggle’ it engages in with any trace of conviction is the one against the left.” [Stuart Hall, 1981]

    It was true then; and it’s true now.

  13. Isabel says:

    “my goodness, what a lot of assertions the author makes”

    True but a lot of them stand up to scrutiny more than you allow for.

    “1. But, importantly, there is a glimmer of hope – surely thats subjective”

    Well, yes, but it is a subjective article making a subjective argument. Perfect objectivity at this point in British politics would both be a big ask and probably of little use to anyone.

    “2. He has been tested and he has been found wanting – by whom, for what?”

    By over 80% of his MPs (who have a combined vote of circa 9 million at the last election) for failing to be a credible leader would be one.

    “3. He has failed every test of national leadership – which were?”

    Response to the Paris attacks would be one.

    “4. He is physically scruffy – you say that like its a bad thing?”

    Yeah, it shouldn’t matter if politics were not so much about personality. But it is. And the fact that he is scruffy will put many voters off. And a big part of the job of Leader of the Opposition is to win voters over. Should it matter? No. Does it? yes.

    “5. He has barely launched a single policy – can i counter that by saying “sure start” repeatedly?”

    By all means yes.

    “6. He sabotaged the EU referendum campaign – by being nuanced?”

    No by being – according to recent reports emerging from those fighting it with passion from the Labour side – obstructive when it came to their campaign. Also comments about how committed he actually was to the cause (seven out of ten) will not have helped.

    “7. He has completely failed to hold the government to account – unlike the 184 mp who abstained from the second reading of the welfare reform & work bill.”

    Completely is probably pushing it but we have a deeply divided Tory government with a slender majority that is still pretty much allowed to do whatever it wants.

    “8. There is an election within the next 12 months – 2020 last time i looked.”

    Technically true. But the next Tory leader / Prime Minister could still call a General Election within the next 12 months in order to claim their own mandate. The Fixed Term Parliament Act does allow for the five year rule to be over-ridden though. And they will be more likely to do so if they can scent an easy victory – which at the moment they can.

    “9. This is not about left or right within Labour – so disingenuous”

    On some levels clearly yes, but on others no. This country needs an effective opposition as soon as possible. It doesn’t have one at all right now, and Corbyn is part of that problem.

    “10. It is simply about fitness to govern – demonstrate it intellectually then”

    Same could be thrown at Corbyn.

    “well good luck recruiting the 350,000+ new supporters you will need to remove Corbyn with”

    And good luck to this country in having an opposition party at self-inflicted war with itself if they do not.

  14. Peter Kenny says:

    If a coup doesn’t succeed in the frst 48 hours it usually fails.

    Monday is the time either for a challenger or for the PLP to bow the knee and ask forgiveness. See one Boris Johnson for how it’s done. Hillary Benn appears on TV to say “after discussions and consultations etc etc it appears etc etc” and then announce his own retirement.

    MPs will have been facing their constituency parties over the weekend away from Westminster and they generally won’t have had a good time. Ours certainly didn’t at an emergency members meeting yesterday – a discussion without threats or abuse but clearly most members very disturbed and angered by PLP tactics.

    They may also have been mugging up on what happens to ‘New Parties’ and the value of the Labour brand.

    I’m not saying it will happen but the old saw needs rewriting at the moment to ” a day is a long time in politics’

    It’s what happens when your politics is simply one of short term manoeuvres and dirty tricks rather then clear political platforms and democratic processes.

  15. madasafish says:

    I expect Corbyn to win and – unless the Tories screw up the economy – or we have a worldwide recession – or Corbyn learns how to do politics – the Tories to win teh next GE with alrger majority.

    Of course, that could be in 2020 or a swift election in 2017..

    If that is the case, the Left will blame Corbyn as not left wing enough and elect McDonnell as leader. The PLP will whinge and complain and do what they are best at – looking like a bunch of overgrown kids with no courage.

    McDonnell is smarter and better at politics than Corby, He’ll be too old by 2022 to be electable.

    So IF there is an early GE expect Labour possibly being out of power until 2027 – at the earliest.

    Of course the next PM May disagree…but it’s a tempting prospect..

    Labour are a useless Opposition and not a credible Government -in-waiting and that usually continues for far longer than observers think possible.

  16. NickT says:

    If the Labour party can’t remove a bumbling, dishonest idiot like Corbyn and his cretinous entourage of Militants, the Labour party is finished. I am certainly not going to vote for a Party that wants to play footsie with Leave and its ignorant rabble of racists, kooks and football hooligans.

  17. Mark Livingston says:

    If the Tory-lite Blairbots just accepted their democratically elected leader and got behind him, “peak chaos” for Labour would be over in seconds. I think Labour members should do two things: table formal motions of confidence in Jeremy Corbyn within their CLPs ; and table formal motions of no confidence in their Blairbot MPs. Job done.

  18. TC says:


    So there we have it, most Labour voters and most Labour members want Corbyn to stay. Those are the facts that matter. Everything else in the article is just your opinion, Sam, and you’re welcome to it, but there’s no reason why the rest of us should take it seriously.

    One lie does need to be addressed, however. Corbyn did not sabotage the remain campaign in any way, shape or form. 63% of Labour voters voted remain, compared 64% of SNP voters and 70% of Lib Dem voters. Are Sturgeon and Farron facing calls to resign for ‘sabotaging’ the remain campaign? Of course not, so let’s put this arrant nonsense to bed once and for all.

    It’s quite telling that 10 months of carping, sniping, and plotting by Corbyn’s opponents, and countless hostile articles in the media, including the so-called ‘centre-left’ media, have done so little damage to his popularity. They have thrown everything they have at him, and he is still going strong. And I see that, after everything else had failed, the old anti-Semitism smear was dusted down and wheeled out. It couldn’t, however, last for more than a few hours because everyone – except the author it appears – could see what a load of baseless nonsense it was.

    It is still astonishing to me that, after 10 months of scheming and plotting, the organisers of the #ChickenCoup’s whole plan hinged on Corbyn stepping down quietly. They don’t appear have to considered the possibility that he would say no, point to his massive mandate from the members, and say ‘if you want me to go, challenge me under the rules’. Now Corbyn has done exactly that, and knowing that they are likely to lose, and lose badly, any leadership election, the plotters don’t seem to know what to do next. It’s the worst organised coup that one could possibly imagine; and it’s brought to us by the people who complain endlessly about inept leadership!

    It really is time for you jokers to put up or shut up. I hope you go through with it, but the events of the last few days suggest that you haven’t the testicular fortitude.

  19. TC says:

    The first part of my post was meant to contain a quote, but I seem to have done something wrong. The <> ought to read:

    ‘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.’

  20. Ian says:

    You seem to be stunningly unaware that the ‘centre-left’ MPs who are behind all this plotting are as out of touch, as far as the Labour core vote outside London is concerned, as are the Corbynites. Both factions are essentially London-focused and neither of them is facing up to the fact that the party is losing touch with its core supporters in England, particularly in the North, just as it already has in Scotland. Two bald men fighting over a comb is an over-used metaphor, but if you are not careful, whoever ‘wins’ this contest might find that they have a considerably smaller base of support than Labour has enjoed for nearly a century.

  21. James Martin says:

    Samuel, one week on from the pre-planned ’24 hour coup’ it is clear to everyone that it has failed. Of course the plotters could still put up a candidate, and may yet do so, but the Eagle is stranded and for all his talk of the need for ‘leadership’ Hillary Benn has been distinctly lacking in it so far, or as John Prescott put it in the Mirror this weekend: “It seems Hilary Benn was the Grand Old Duke of York. He marched 172 Labour MPs who’d signed that no-confidence motion in Jeremy to the top of the hill. And there they stay, with the dawning realisation the only way is back down to an angry membership.”

  22. TCO says:

    Brexit should show everyone there is now a stark divide between the Northern conservative working class, and the Southern metropolitan liberal working class.

    I can understand that Labour moderates are keen to hang onto the brand and the assets, but it looks like the left have them now, and won’t be relinquishing them easily.

    The Party is over. Time for a new one.

  23. TCO says:

    That should be liberal middle class.

    Further point to note – the public sector is continuing to shrink, so the party who grasps the post-public sector situation first will be a winner.

  24. John P Reid says:

    Exactly Ian and the London MPs who want corbyn out, don’t realize how the test of our traditional vote are appalled at their views

  25. john P Redi says:

    Mark Livingston, what you forget to realise is that Stuart hall,then was part of our worse defeat ever in 1983, well worse so far

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