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Showing posts from July, 2016

A narrow Corbyn victory? It's the worst of all possible worlds.

Although I don’t consider myself to be much a political seer, I did eventually manage to predict the result of the Brexit referendum in June. It took me until the final week to be confident enough to express my view publicly that Leave was going to win, but at that point, I was pretty certain of it.
I also pointed out that a close vote would be the worst possible scenario. If Remain had scraped home, that would have caused political upset enough. But the relatively narrow victory for Leave was the absolute nightmare to end all nightmares.
Look at the turmoil it has already caused.
The replacement of a Prime Minister. A coup against the Leader of the Opposition. Millions signing petitions to get the result reversed. And the true economic and political consequences yet to unfold.
In political scenarios where important decisions are agonisingly close, there is little chance of catharsis. The victors are delighted, but still vulnerable. The losers are aggrieved and find acceptance diff…

I said it was as easy as ABC - Anyone But Corbyn. So why am I finding it so hard to endorse Smith?

I'm on record as saying that I could stop a person randomly in the street and have a 50/50 chance of finding someone who'd be a better leader of the Labour Party than Jeremy Corbyn.

Take them away for a couple of days, give them some advice on public speaking and get a little sartorial advice from David Cameron's mother. They'd be outperforming the veteran MP for Islington North in no time.

By this logic, I should be delighted at the elevation of Owen Smith - MP for Pontypridd - to the position of sole challenger in the forthcoming Labour leadership election. He sounds coherent, knows how to do up his tie and is well versed in the traditions of the Party.

So why do I feel very queasy?

First of all, I make no apology for thinking Angela Eagle would have been a better choice.

Labour seems very reluctant to embrace a female candidate and I wonder whether this culture will ever really change. YouGov polling suggests that Smith has no advantage over her in terms of votes. T…

This isn't just about replacing one man. It's about challenging his ideas.

The launch of Owen Smith’s campaign for the Labour leadership has left impartial observers rather bemused.
Surely, if the mainstream in the Labour Party wants to defeat Jeremy Corbyn, they should be rallying around a single candidate? Splitting the anti-Jez vote between Smith and Angela Eagle seems utterly self-destructive.
Within a short time, however, it has become apparent that Smith intends to replace Eagle as the candidate.
The argument advanced by his supporters is that he is better placed to beat Corbyn because he is seen as more left-wing by party members. He will therefore ‘peel away’ people who despair of Corbyn’s incompetence, but can’t embrace Angela Eagle’s political world view.
While this may be plausible at one level, we have to be realistic that the chances of either of these candidates beating Corbyn are fairly minimal right now. This is because the Corbynistas are well entrenched and the maths simply doesn’t look that good.  But let’s, for argument’s sake, imagine…

This is a confrontation that can't be avoided. But the long-term future looks bleak.

So the battle has been joined. The revolt by Labour MPs – denounced as a ‘chicken coup’ by Corbyn supporters online – turns out to be serious. After the Party made a disastrous decision to elect the Islington leftist last summer, the chickens have actually come home to roost.
As Angela Eagle prepares to launch her challenge at a smart central London venue on Monday morning, there are two important questions to be answered.
The first is whether Owen Smith will stake his own claim to be the challenger. The MP for Pontypridd is viewed as much more sympathetic to the embattled socialist incumbent and only resigned very reluctantly from the shadow cabinet. He has been vocally supportive of the ill-fated ‘peace deal’ proposed by Deputy Leader Tom Watson and some representatives of the trade unions.
If Smith has any remaining ambitions, it needs to be made clear to him very firmly that there can be only one challenger. Angela Eagle presents much more of a serious ideological counterpoint …

Do we hear the flapping of the Eagle's wings?

The Eagle has been circling, but hasn’t yet swooped on its prey. A strange phoney war has developed over the past week, following the spectacular move against Jeremy Corbyn by the Parliamentary Labour Party.
To the embattled Labour Leader’s supporters, such as union backer Len McCluskey, this interregnum provides evidence of the coup’s failure.
I wouldn’t be so sure.
The strategy so far has clearly been to force Corbyn into a resignation.  When the Feds surround the compound of weird religious sect, they obviously give the ringleader the opportunity to come quietly. But after repeated warnings and the deployment of skilled negotiators, patience starts to wear a little thin.
My guess is that the announcement of the challenge is imminent and will pre-empt the release of the Chilcot Report.
While there’s an argument for letting Corbyn embarrass himself on Wednesday before proceeding with the contest, my gut instinct tells me the PLP will prefer him to be a leadership candidate rather than a…