We live in curious times. While the Tory party membership of around 180,000 is currently choosing who will be our next Prime Minister, the opposition is slowly but surely tearing itself into pieces.
This has been a tough few weeks for Jeremy Corbyn. Not only was his name not sung to the tune of Seven Nation Army once at Glastonbury this year, a YouGov poll released last week showed that just 18% of the electorate would vote Labour at a General Election. This is their weakest result in decades.
Add to this the continuing scourge of antisemitism, dangling over the party like a filled-up dog-poo bag in a bush, and it’s hardly surprising that the party’s leaders are all starting to attack one another.
Despite the media’s gaze being fixed intently at Boris Johnson’s procession to No. 10, a far more fascinating leadership race could be emerging.
And this shit is practically Shakespearian.
On Wednesday, a Panorama report into antisemitism within the Labour Party will be aired. Former Labour employees, politicians and advisors will speak candidly about alleged attempts by the party to cover up cases of antisemitic abuse carried out by hard-left figures within the party.
These left-wing, anti-Zionist zealots were, for many years, banished to the confines of the fringes of the party – now, under Corbyn’s stewardship, they are in the mainstream.
Corbyn has a team of allies around him that include Jennie Formby (currently absent from politics while she battles cancer – Between the Lines send their hopes for a speedy recovery), Karie Murphy and Seamas Milne. These three names have been centre-stage during the antisemitism controversies, and are rumoured to be behind planned lawsuits against the whistleblowers in the Panorama documentary.
But their vice-like grip on Corbyn appears to be weakening.
They have been largely blamed for Corbyn’s refusal to steer the Labour Party towards favouring a second referendum, something that all but a few Labour MPs are strongly, and vocally, in favour of. Combined with the influence of Eurosceptic Len McCluskey, the General Secretary of Unite the Union (a massive trade union and major Labour Party donor), many Labour MPs are bemoaning the fact that the unelected figures around Corbyn seem to be the ones with the real power.
Pleasing everyone is impossible in politics, but it seems as though Corbyn has been trying to play both sides for too long – something would have to give eventually, and now it finally seems as though it will.
The Death Of Corbyn
In another personal matter, Karie Murphy, the Labour Chief of Staff, has also taken a temporary break from politics following the passing of her mother last week. Her absence seems to have emboldened some of those MPs who have felt shut out by her influence.
Enter Diane Abbott, long-standing Corbyn-supporter and, at one point, lover.
Abbott reportedly confronted Corbyn this week, as did John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor. Both told him to sack Murphy and Milne, the communications director, and to tack towards a Second Referendum.
And if he didn’t? Mutiny.
Abbott openly challenging her beloved Corbyn like this is akin to Piers Morgan standing in front of a mirror and telling himself not to be such a massive bellend – desperately unlikely, but largely welcomed.
But mutiny may well be on the way whatever Corbyn decides to do. With the antisemitism furore raging, and the upcoming documentary poised to douse the flames with nothing but lighter fluid, Tom Watson, the deputy leader, has done little to hide his posturing for the leadership in recent weeks.
He’s explicitly recruited MPs onside for a potential overthrow, has been a prominent campaigner for a People’s Vote for months and has directly, and publicly, clashed with Formby over the handling of the antisemitism crisis.
However, reports suggest that, for now, he will simply watch the hard-left at the top of the party destroy themselves like a pack of starving hyenas and then just stroll into the top job.
But he isn’t the only one, either – McDonnell himself has been having private meetings with MPs to create a scenario where a centre-left, appealing candidate would take the top job (Sir Keir Starmer, Angela Bailey and Rebecca Long-Bailey have all been touted), but he would remain as Chancellor to maintain his left-of-centre economic policy.
It is starting to look pretty lonely at the top for Corbyn. A principled man but a deeply-flawed politician, opinion polls suggest that most members of the public view him as a pretty feeble leader of the opposition, and it would be hard to argue against them.
In a period where a united party with a coherent strategy would have flattened the Tories by now, he has utterly failed to do his job. The relative success of the 2017 General Election has been marred by antisemitism, confused Brexit strategies and a systematic failure to hold the government to account.
On a day where Sajid David has pledged his support to Boris Johnson, further cementing the inevitable result of him becoming Prime Minister, the Labour Party should be screaming about the dangers of a Johnson government from the rafters.
Instead, they are putting out fires inside their own house. The sooner that Corbyn goes, the better.
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