As Angela Eagle is about to launch her Labour leadership challenge you can picture Ollie Reeder of the Thick it racing frantically through the corridors like the Keystone cops trying to tell Eagle that a much bigger news story has broken as Andrea Leadsom calls a last minute news conference to declare she is no longer standing to be the Conservative leader.
Its too late though as Ollie crashes through the door only to see a awkward, gurning Angela Eagle calling out journalists who have long scarpered to a much bigger news story as with no challengers, Teresa May will not only be the new Tory leader but the new Prime Minister.
The last few months in politics seems to be a drama that would rival Kevin Spacey’s House of cards with the farce of the thick of it thrown in for good measure. If anything Angela Eagle’s pitch to challenge Jeremy Corbyn has so far summed up the PLP’s attempted coup. A half arsed attempt that has so far swerved from one calamity to the next. So much so that the shadow chancellor John McDonnell joked at a pro Corbyn rally “that the only good thing about it, was that as plotters, they were fucking useless.”
Malcolm Tucker would have blown up by now at the inadequacy of the Labour rebels and the way the ‘rise of the nutters,’ as he would no doubt see the Corbynistas have ran rings around them.
With regards to the Labour rebels and the way they have acted there are so many faults that it’s hard where to start. From the deluded arrogance of not understanding the mood of their own membership to their inability to pick an appropiate time and more importantly a candidate who could offer a realistic chance of challenging the Tories.
Like Boris Johnson the Labour rebels were probably hoping for a close vote to remain in the EU so that they could get the best of both worlds to get rid of Corbyn. No doubt they would have cited the reason that they gave when the leave vote won that Jeremy Corbyn had not done enough.
There was no doubt that it all seemed pre-planned. The “it’s with a heavy heart…” delete whatever job you currently held template that was sent en masse smacked of the attempt to pressurise Corbyn to step down as losing the support of his MPs.
Unfortunately there was a slight flaw in that plan in the sense that Corbyn knew that he didn’t have the full support of his MPs. It wasn’t as if they had kept it a secret with the constant attempts at undermining him through the media that Corbyn and his supporters knew that an attempt would be made at his leadership.
So when the first bullets of “it’s with a heavy heart…” started to fly followed by attempts to strong-arm Corbyn in stepping down it was never going to happen. Yes he might not have the support of most of his MPs but he had the support of the membership after his outright victory almost a year ago.
This was something that the Labour rebels seemed to have realised as they looked at ways at ensuring that Corbyn had to have enough nominations from Labour MPs to re-stand. After much deliberating the NEC stated that Corbyn could be stand but then ruled that unless members had paid the full membership of £25 within the past six months rather than the £3 would not be eligible to vote. Critics accused the NEC of social exclusion and attempting to restrict voting in an attempt to get the result that they wished.
All that has happened so far is a widening rift between the PLP and its members. There are some who see their MPs as London-centric, careerists who are not in tune with their constituents. The Guardian’s John Harris whilst conducting a survey regarding the EU vote summed up the mood the divide that seems to have engulfed the UK with a quote from a Manchester voter. “If you’ve got money you vote in. If you haven’t got money you vote out.”
Corbyn at the very least offers a different alternative from the austerity lite that his “it’s with a heavy heart…” opponents seem to prefer. There is with Corbyn a voice that speaks for them but that’s not to say that there are those that are equally as cynical with Corbyn with concerns over immigration and the decline of their areas.
The rebel Labour MPs have never been seen to give Corbyn a chance. Instead they have acted like spoilt kids when the trophy goes outside of their own little clique. After all Corbyn was seen as the ‘token leftie,’ whilst they had to suffer the inconvenience of members deciding which of their faction should lead the Labour party. Inevitably it came as an almighty shock that Corbyn not only won the vote but raced away with it.
Even then they couldn’t be seen to give Corbyn a chance and offer their full support and seemed only active in opposing Corbyn rather than the Conservative government. This tawdry episode has done nothing to impress voters who watch such petulant antics and feel ever more alienated from the Westminster bubble.
The rebels are right in the sense that Corbyn won’t win Labour the next general election but equally neither will Angela Eagle or Owen Smith. Neither as Toast of London would say has the “charisma,”or the appeal of offering not only something new but hope and the opportunity for a better country. Instead of just offering their support and biding their time whilst they wait for the right candidate. Even if Corbyn had led them to an election which he still might and doesn’t win they can then say that they gave it a chance and it was time for a new alternative.
Now after all the mutterings and sneakiness they have taken the first shot at Corbyn without any real thought. They now face the prospect of Corbyn not only winning again but the threat of deselection at the next election. In the words of Omar from the wire “If you come at the King, you best not miss.”