Next Labour Leader: Let’s do the Time Warp Again

Next Labour Leader: Let’s do the Time Warp Again


Tissue Price on Mr. Corbyn’s successor

Amongst the favourites in the betting for next Labour leader are non-runner Dan Jarvis (8/1), non-finisher Chuka Umunna (9/1), and non-MP David Miliband (a stand out 20/1 with Stan James, otherwise 10/1). All are broadly on the right of the party, though admittedly Jarvis is something of a blank canvas.

And yet the next leader will either be arranged by the PLP, in the Michael Howard manner, or they’ll be elected by broadly the same membership that just gave Corbyn a landslide. So something doesn’t add up here.

I won’t re-hash the arguments for a coup again here. Keiran tipped Alan Johnson as a potential unifier and, in the comments on that piece, others suggested Harriet Harman or Hilary Benn. There’s also Tom Watson (8/1 2nd favourite) to consider in this role: the lobby took his conference speech as evidence that he might be interested in any vacancy…

Absent a coup, when and why will Corbyn step down? He might make it through to 2020 and lose, though it is odds-on (4/7) that he gets replaced before then. I think the most likely scenario for his departure would probably be based on mediocre election results, coupled with poor personal polling.

Obviously plenty of Labour MPs will be calling for his head in such circumstances but I think the role of the trade unions will be what is really critical here. If Unite withdrew their support then it would be hard to see how Corbyn could rely solely on the membership for his authority – especially when much of that membership was recruited by the trade unions as part of his campaign.

He might even decide to go himself: though he is very serious about changing the Labour Party he does not appear to be in this for personal self-aggrandisement. If he were persuaded that a younger, more presentable candidate of the left would have a better chance of winning in 2020 he might resign and endorse them in the subsequent contest.

And, given that it’s unlikely a Corbyn-controlled NEC will change the election process, the candidate of the left ought to be favourite in that contest. But such a candidate would still need to get 15% of the MPs to nominate them, which might rule out the likes of John McDonnell and Diane Abbott, at least if the contest is before the General Election.

So, who might the “candidate of the left” be? If you think they’ll be a genuine Corbynite then Clive Lewis (33/1) has attracted the most early buzz; if you think that the unions might execute the Time Warp manoeuvre* and go for someone slightly more centrist then Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Lisa Nandy (14/1) looks the best choice – though it remains to be seen whether the time will be ever be right for a woman to lead Labour.

Both look far better value than Umunna and Miliband, and both will still be live betting tickets if Corbyn makes it to 2020 or beyond.

* A jump to the left, then a step to the right

Tissue Price

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