In Multipolarity

The Week, July 7, 2016

MP says attempted coup is ‘finished’ as new party members appear to side with leader

Labour rebels are “in retreat”, according to the Daily Telegraph, after several senior MPs told the newspaper Jeremy Corbyn would triumph in any future leadership election. “It’s finished. He will win easily in a second contest if he is on the ballot. It’s everything we wanted to avoid,” one such MP told the newspaper.

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks to antiwar rally in October 2012

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks to antiwar rally in October 2012

Another Labour source said Corbyn had “dug his heels in” and “isn’t going anywhere”, adding: “It’s grim. He is losing support of the membership by the day, there is no doubt about that, but they just sign up new members to replace them. He is Teflon in that sense.”

Labour membership is on course to hit 600,000, a half-century peak, according to the New Statesman. “Local parties – who are responsible for vetting new members in the first instance – report that the bulk of joiners who have responded to welcome emails or messages from MPs are strongly opposed to any attempt to remove Corbyn,” adds the magazine.

Talks are continuing between the Corbyn-supporting trade unions, which are the party’s biggest financial donors, and Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, who is believed to be trying to broker a deal that would see Corbyn resign as leader but continue in some kind of executive capacity.

However, another Labour MP told the Telegraph that, while more talks were planned, “when one side’s red line is that Jeremy stays in post and the other side says he has to go, it is impossible to find a compromise”.

Potential leadership challenger Owen Smith MP says he is “ready to do anything I can to save and serve the party”, but has promised to give the talks “every chance to succeed.”

The release of the Chilcot Inquiry is believed to have further widened divisions in the party. At an event organised by the Corbyn-supporting Momentum group, speakers “used the findings of the Chilcot report to bolster Corbyn’s position and take the fight to his critics in the party”, said The Guardian.

In what the newspaper sees as an apparent attack on the main would-be leadership challenger, Angela Eagle, shadow cabinet member Jon Trickett said: “Our party must never again be led by someone who is unrepentant in their record supporting war.”

Jeremy Corbyn leadership crisis: Will Labour Party split in two?

The Week, July 6,2016

Politics experts are predicting a divide in the Labour Party as it faces one of its biggest crises in its 116-year history.

The general secretary of Unite union, Len McCluskey, has spoken separately with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his deputy, Tom Watson, who is hoping to broker a peace deal for the party.

But the talks are doomed to failure, says The Independent‘s Andy McSmith because the unions – the party’s main financial backers – are set on Jeremy Corbyn remaining leader, while Labour MPs insist he must go.

At he same time, one of the party’s biggest individual donors, Assem Allam, has offered to back MPs who choose to defect and set up a new party – just as the so-called “Gang of Four” did in 1981, creating the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

The businessman, who has previously given Labour around £500,000, believes the party has become a “joke” and cannot provide a “strong opposition” under Corbyn, says the Daily Telegraph.

Is the threat of a Labour split serious?

Yes. The Independent‘s McSmith says senior Labour officials are preparing in earnest for a division, scrambling to find out who “owns” the party’s name and its premises. He quotes one official as asking: “Who owns the logo and the headquarters? Does it all belong to the leader, as a sort of head of the family, or the general secretary, or the national executive? You would think that this had been settled after the last split [in 1981] but it wasn’t.”

Professor Tim Bale, of Queen Mary University’s politics department, told the London Evening Standard yesterday he gives the party an 80 to 90 per cent chance of splitting if Corbyn wins a second leadership election.

Will Corbyn be challenged for the leadership?

Early last week it seemed inevitable, but on Thursday, his most likely challenger, Angela Eagle, decided to postpone her bid. Some 60,000 new members had joined Labour in just one week – and senior figures in the party feared many of them might back Corbyn.

The Labour leader says he will stand for re-election if challenged, although there is some wrangling within the party about whether the rules would allow him to do so. If he is barred from standing, writes Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times, long-term Corbyn-backer John McDonnell is likely to run.

While Bale believes that the rank-and-file support that put Corbyn into the top job may have waned, senior anti-Corbyn figures in Labour are not so confident, says Ganesh.

How might a split happen?

Around 170 Labour MPs say they have no confidence in Corbyn as leader. If they choose to do so, they can simply form their own grouping in parliament, without a formal split from the party, and argue that they are the official opposition, says the Standard.

Ganesh proposes something more radical: the 170 MPs should form a new, pro-European party with which the Lib Dems could merge. Even if Tim Farron and his MPs stayed separate, the new party would be by far the biggest in parliament after the Tories, granting it opposition status.

If, as it seems possible, the rump of the party still loyal to Corbyn was less than the SNP’s 54, Labour would be finished.

Corbyn issues defiant video as Watson seeks to meet unions

The Week, July 5, 2016

Jeremy Corbyn has issued a rallying cry to Labour Party members, telling them: “Now is the time to come together.”

In a video, the party leader said he wanted to “talk directly” to the membership after the events of the past week, during which many of his shadow cabinet members resigned, MPs supported a motion of no confidence against him and talk of a fresh leadership election has refused to go away.

“Only nine months ago, I was very honoured to be elected leader of our party with 60 per cent of the votes. I have a huge responsibility; I’m carrying out that responsibility,” he said.

“The membership has gone up by more than 60,000 in one week. We’re now at the biggest membership we’ve been, certainly in all of my lifetime.”

Corbyn added that the membership wanted him and Labour MPs to “work together” to achieve a better society.

The video comes as Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, seeks to meet trade union leaders in what the New Statesman called a “last throw of the dice” to negotiate a settlement between the Parliamentary Labour Party(PLP) and Corbyn.

But doubt has been cast on his plans, with sources telling the BBC there was nothing scheduled involving the big four unions.

Watson also told Labour MPs at their weekly PLP meeting that it was their duty to exhaust every avenue in pursuit of a settlement before mounting a leadership challenge, reports The Guardian.

However, it was former Labour leader Neil Kinnock who reportedly gained the biggest applause as he told the politicians: “I’m not leaving this party – it’s our party.”

The peer, who himself fought off a leadership challenge by a Corbyn-backed Tony Benn in 1988, won a standing ovation from Labour MPs – thought to be the first ever at a PLP meeting, according to the Huffington Post.

Should a challenge to Corbyn’s leadership arise, former shadow business secretary Angela Eagle is believed to have the support of fellow parliamentary members to run.

Eagle, who resigned from the shadow cabinet last week, has said: “I have the support to run and resolve this impasse and I will do so if Jeremy doesn’t take action soon.”

How The Guardian undermines Jeremy Corbyn and the left, by Daniel Bey, Telesur, July 5, 2016

Telesur spoke to David Cromwell and David Edwards, co-editors of Media Lens, about The Guardian and corporate media’s bias against Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn. 

Telesur: On June 30, The Guardian published an article with the headline, “Jeremy Corbyn appears to compare Israeli government to Islamic State.” Here’s what Corbyn actually said, “Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organisations.”

The Guardian has since changed the headline to “Jeremy Corbyn launches anti-Semitism report amid controversy.” They have also amended the article after they originally quoted Corbyn as saying “Islamic State” instead of “various self-styled Islamic states or organizations.”

What’s your take on this and The Guardian’s coverage of Corbyn more generally since he was elected Labour leader in 2015?

David Cromwell and David Edwards: The Guardian’s coverage of Jeremy Corbyn and, especially, its editorial stance, has been relentlessly negative; the above is but one example. As we noted in our latest media alert, the “Guardian view” is that the “Corbyn experiment is effectively over at Westminster”…


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