Posts Tagged ‘shadow cabinet’

Keep Corbyn – June 2016

Sunday, June 27th, 2021

Emergency protest on the day of the coup

It’s probably never a good idea to say “I told you so”, but it was clear to many of us that that after Jeremy Corbyn became the leader of the Labour Party he represented the party’s only hope of winning a general election in the foreseeable future – and probably within my own lifetime.

And although he lost the 2017 election, it proved the case. It was an election the Labour Party could and should have won. They would have won had not many officials and MPs been actively sabotaging the campaign, diverting resources away from marginal constituencies and failing to give the party their full support. Some even went as far as seeming to celebrate the loss.

Ever since Corbyn won the leadership in September 2015 many officers and MPs had been fighting against him, some openly. Things came to a head in 2016 after the EU referendum when he was accused of only giving lukewarm support to the Remain campaign, though he had certainly spoken against leaving the EU at numerous large rallies. The issue was picked up as a pretext for a coup attempt that had long been in planning.

This began on 25th June when Hilary Benn contacted other shadow cabinet ministers telling them he had lost confidence in Corbyn and was sacked. On 26th June 11 other members of the shadow cabinet resigned with another eight leaving the following day.

The emergency protest on the day the coup attempt began was small, but two days later more than ten thousand grass-roots Labour supporters filled Parliament Square in a rally organised by Momentum to vigorously oppose the coup. All except the top picture come from the rally on 17th June.

Angela Rayner and Richard Burgon both came to support Corbyn

Corbyn was able to form a new if rather smaller shadow cabinet with a number of joint portfolios, including 13 new members. But on the 28th June the 229 MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party passed a motion of no confidence in him by 172 votes to 40.

It was hard to find anyone to stand against Corbyn, but finally on 11 July Angela Eagle launched a leadership challenge and was followed by Owen Smith. Opponents of Corbyn tried to get him left off the ballot, but a secret ballot of the Labour National Executive Committee confirmed by a small majority that the incumbent leader should automatically be listed, in line with party rules, and their decision was later confirmed by the High Court. Eagle dropped out as Smith got more nominations, though neither was particularly popular.

In the leadership ballot that followed, Corbyn confirmed his popularity. He was supported by 285 Constituency Labour Parties, with only 53 CLPs supporting Smith, and ended up with 61.8% of the vote to Smith’s 38.2%.

Jeremy Corbyn smiles after speaking at the rall

It should have been a clear message to MPs and party officials to get behind Corbyn and stop undermining his leadership. A united Labour Party could have fought the prejudices of our predominantly right-wing media including a BBC increasingly dominated by right-wing commentators and editors. Their continued opposition to him and some popular manifesto commitments threw away the chance of winning the next election – whenever it was called. Though it was only the weak and disunited state of Labour that convinced Theresa May to gamble on 2017; but even then had the party got fully behind the campaign we would have been saved the shameful Tory governments that have followed since then.

More on My London Diary:
Thousands rally to Keep Corbyn
Keep Corbyn – No Coup