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There is a way to save the Labour Party as a force in UK politics

Please note this blog originally appear on 29th June at http://tomdlondon.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/there-is-way-to-save-labour-party-as.html

The urgent priority for everyone concerned with progressive politics and social justice in the UK is to work to prevent the Labour Party splitting into two.

People need to be hard-headed and pragmatic. (There will be plenty of time in the years to come for the arguments currently raging as to who is to blame for the current crisis.) The Labour Party has long been an alliance of disparate views. The first-past-the-post system makes such an alliance essential. As happened in the 1980s when the SDP split from Labour, a divided left guarantees Tory rule. 

At the moment a split seems almost inevitable. On one side are 75% of Labour MPs and the entire Establishment. On the other there is, I believe, a large majority of Labour members and, it appears, Labour voters. A YouGov/Times poll today shows that 54% of Labour voters do not want Jeremy Corbyn to resign.

The reality is that neither side can win outright. Corbyn cannot function as a leader of the party if his MPs have no confidence in him, whatever the members may want. However, it is equally true that the MPs cannot demand a different leader, because the members insist on Corbyn.

I can only see one solution to this impasse. I propose that Corbyn stands down and the MPs guarantee that John McDonnell will receive enough nominations to go into the leadership contest and that they will accept his leadership if he wins. If McDonnell is prepared to put himself forward, I doubt if Corbyn would stand in the way of such an arrangement as it has never been about him personally but about the policies. I would expect most members would accept this compromise.

The fact that their candidate for the leadership, Angela Eagle, is almost certain to lose to Corbyn should concentrate MPs’ minds and make them realise that it is in their interest to agree to this proposal in order to keep the party together.  

Furthermore, having McDonnell rather than Corbyn as leader substantially answers the MPs publicly stated objections to Corbyn. They have not raised any differences on policy with Corbyn (although clearly some exist); they have attacked Corbyn’s competence and related issues. McDonnell was generally considered to have had an effective campaign for Remain; he is a more authoritative figure than Corbyn and an effective communicator. 

This proposal would not be a “victory” for either side but any such “victory” would be hollow as it would necessarily lead to the disaster of the party splitting. 

Every possible effort need to be made now to save the Labour Party as a force in UK politics and this proposal may be the only way to do that.


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commented 2016-07-30 10:56:11 +0100
commented 2016-07-27 22:45:27 +0100
McDonnell as leader. The problem is that despite what the rebels say, it is JC’s policies that they object to and they would be no happier with JM as leader. Even if JM were acceptable to the rebels, I’m sure that Bob is right when he says that JM would not agree to replace our democratically elected leader. Sarah Chmpion demonstrated yesterday what is really necessary to make the party a force again.
commented 2016-07-27 14:10:25 +0100
This is a rather simplistic response to the current impasse. Firstly, John will not stand if it is on the basis that the right-wing MPs are then seen to have been successful in unseating a democratically elected leader. Secondly, if John were to become Labour Leader is there any guarantee the right-wing MPs would not then seek to organise against him at the first opportunity they could concoct. I think the only resolution lies in the PLP making a whole tranch of concessions. In future MPs should be treated in exactly the same way as individual members on all matters of party organisation including election of leader and election to NEC. They patently cannot be trusted with the existing powers they enjoy. They should also accept the CLPs rights, if CLPs wish to exercise it, to mandatory reselection. If their activities in Westminster and in the local constituency have been acceptable to their Party membership then a CLP might wish not to exercise the option of reselection. I think we also have to change the mindset of MPs to better fit the character of a mass Party. Up to now they have got away with being big fish in a little pond. In the future it might be more appropriate to see themselves as fish in a very big pool, a position which demands less arrogance from them.
commented 2016-07-25 13:12:12 +0100
It’s up to the 172 to convince the members that there is good reason to withdraw support from Corbyn. So far they have failed to do this.
This is democracy – their duty now is to get behind Corbyn and start being an effective opposition.
We have another election in place, they have 2 months to persuade the membership.
If Corbyn gets re-elected their duty will be the same.
If we have another leader democratically and legitimately elected, then it’ll be Corbyn and Co’s duty to get in line and support the party.
The 172 risk going the way of the SDP (into oblivion!) but wrecking the party on the way out and ensuring more years of tory rule.

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