Saturday, 24 September 2016

What's Behind The Labour Curtain?

In changing the rules to allow paying members to vote for the party leader, Ed Miliband couldn't have predicted what a 5 season, 25 disc box set of political drama he's gifted the nation. As someone who was thoroughly bored with second rate politicians arguing over the centre ground like teenagers squabbling over which one of them has the best mobile phone, Ed Miliband, in allowing thousands of dormant socialists to have a voice and change the direction of their party, has unintentionally made things interesting again.

However, entertaining as that may be, the party is in big trouble, with the majority of its MPs currently forced to choose between a revolt or supporting a man in whom they have no conviction. It is the fact that thousands can effectively bring the party to its knees just by paying to join what is probably a fairly transient Marxist version of Thomas Carlyle's Great Man phenomenon, being played out with a cult of personality fad, that makes things alarmingly problematic for those affiliated with Labour, and hugely entertaining for those that are not.

For me, the significant thing that Owen Smith's leadership loss today tells us about the current Labour Party is that Labour is biding its time as a party. Didn't you wonder why Labour has been holding back its better guns and putting forward the dreadful Owen Smith as the best candidate to challenge Corbyn? I mean let me be clear, I'm obviously no supporter of any of the Labour party MPs. But even I can see that in the context of being a credible (or less un-credible) leader there are MPs like Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, and Alan Johnson who, unlike Owen Smith, are not thought of as being a complete duffer by 99% of people in the country.

It was crystal clear that Owen Smith was not the best they had to offer, so why didn't the Labour Party put forward a less un-credible candidate than Owen Smith? It seems evident to me that it's because they have conceded short-term defeat and have their eyes on the future not the present. Given the size of the pro-Corbyn membership, no challenger stands a chance with the current rules, so the better MPs are probably biding their time until Corbyn presumably stands down after the 2020 election defeat.

Which leads me to my last point. In my view, there is only one current Labour MP that would have a sniff of a chance of being a Labour Party Prime Minister - and that person is Chuka Ummuna. He's young, black, good looking, reasonably likeable, has views that are closer than most in the party to being a weighted average of people who either would or might vote for Labour, and is marginally less terrible than the others. At 25/1 with the bookies, he looks to me a good bet to be the next Labour leader in 2020 after Labour loses the General Election and Corbyn stands down.