Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Who's the Nasty Party now?

After hours of waiting, the Labour NEC has voted so that leader Jeremy Corbyn will be automatically included on any upcoming leadership ballot.

The Labour Party's very existence is at stake, this week. After hours of speculation from the rebels and the Corbynistas, the party's national executive committee finally decided to vote in favour of Mr Corbyn, with 18 votes to 14.

Some had believed the vote being a secret ballot might indicate a possible anti-Corbyn mood in the meeting, but as it turned out, the NEC were satisfied that  Mr Corbyn wasn't compelled to find 51 MPs and MEPs, in order to run for his own job again.

As indicated in the previous post, Labour's rules regarding a leadership challenge when there is no vacancy for the job make no mention of the leader themselves, instead choosing to say "challenger". Angela Eagle has already acquired the 51 nominations to ensure her own spot on the ballot, but it remains unclear what Owen Smith is deciding to do.

It all seemed set. Or was it? Once Mr Corbyn had left the meeting, reports emerged that a new vote had been made by the NEC, concerning the grounds on which members would be able to vote. 

It is now the rule that any members who joined after mid-January are deemed ineligible to vote,  and any members who signed up by paying £3 last summer will need to pay a heftier £25 fee. It's a move that will effectively whittle the eligible voter base down to the core pre-2015 members, if the new intake prove unable to sign up again or lose enthusiasm to do so.

Having apparently got what he wanted out of the day, Mr Corbyn left the NEC meeting in a chirpy mood, and later in the evening, Guardian journalist Benn Quinn filmed John McDonnell and Diane Abbott addressing a rally in Camden (view here). Mr McDonnell was filmed by Quinn saying the following:

"They have been plotting and conniving...the only good thing about it...as plotters, they're fucking useless..."

Diane Abbott, who was onstage with Mr McDonnell, is shown grinning, as she looks out at the crowd watching them. It feels like the "kind and gentle politics" motto that the Corbynites wanted to strive for has run out of legs to stand on. There's just no way the party can heal from such a toxic show of disapproval, when the upper echelons show such contempt for the democratically elected members.

Angela Eagle woke up on the morning of 12th July, to find her constituency office had been vandalised; a mystery assailant had thrown a brick through a window, and she has reportedly been offered police protection. Just let that sink in for a moment. You read that correctly: A British Member of Parliament is being offered police protection, simply for deciding to run against the opposition party leader. It's a phrase that feels unsettling to have to write, but that's how bad things have become.

In a Newsnight interview broadcast just a matter of minutes ago, Angela Eagle reiterated that she has been a Labour member for 40 years, and slammed Mr Corbyn over of bullying in the party, especially through social media, saying he has not shown leadership. She also added that:

"He is a protester; he's not a persuader of people"

As Labour continues to devour itself on the altar of post-Brexit mayhem, the Conservative government has got its act together, and is preparing to welcome our second female Prime Minister, Theresa May, into No. 10 in just a few hours time.

In an infamous 2002 Tory Party conference speech, Theresa May spoke of the perception of the Tory Party being the "Nasty Party". After a day like today, starting with a window shattered by a brick, most of the PLP being branded "fucking useless" and Twitter being fit to burst with vitriol yet again, it might be easy to dub Labour the recipient of such a mantle.

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