The worry for LAB is that last night’s PLP could be a foretaste of the next four and a half years

The worry for LAB is that last night’s PLP could be a foretaste of the next four and a half years

This is what happens when a leader has so little support from his MPs

By all accounts last night’s meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party was one of the most fractious and bad tempered in living memory. The division between the leadership and the rest couldn’t be greater. The problem, of course, is that Jeremy Corbyn is the second leader in succession who wasn’t the choice of his party’s MPs. This was all so predictable.

A week before the leadership results were announced Declan McHugh and Will Sherlock wrote in New Statesman of the rumblings about how the Parliamentary Labour Party and other internal structures might be used to constrain him.

“..Labour’s new figurehead will face a PLP overwhelmingly opposed to him. Many will question the legitimacy of his election and some will reject his authority. From day one, he will face a significant number of Labour MPs not merely against him but actively out to get him. There has probably never been a situation where a leader of the Labour Party has been so far removed from the parliamentary party which he supposedly commands..

..Corbyn’s lack of authority and support within the wider parliamentary party puts a major question mark over his long term prospects as Labour leader. He would certainly lose any direct trial of strength against the PLP.”

Like many I’d taken the view that a key figure was going to be the newly elected deputy leader, Tom Watson, who has repeatedly reminded people that he has his own separate mandate being elected at the same time as Corbyn. The only problem now is that Watson is facing his own storm over the sex abuse allegations. For the time being at least he might not be the force in the party that he might have been.

On top of all of this Corbyn and McDonnell have not handled themselves well. To take one instance it should have been blindingly obvious to Corbyn when he put himself forward that in the event of victory he would become a member of the Privy Council. If that was going to be an issue then he shouldn’t have sought the leadership.

This one is going to run.

Mike Smithson

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