BY NICK PEARCE
Speculation is dangerous. Nonetheless, it’s rather good fun.
If the polls are right and Theresa May ends up with a workable majority on June 8th (PLEASE do go out and vote) there will surely be a (yet another) Labour leadership election as the Labour Party turns on Jeremy Corbyn, despite recent predictions that Corbyn and the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell will somehow cling on as Neil Kinnock did in 1987.
If Corbyn does go, who will the runners and riders be? What do the betting markets for leader say about the state that the Labour Party is in? Has Labour got any kind of a future at all?
Out of the twelve men and women listed above, four have already had a tilt at the Labour leadership. Yvette Cooper is the current bookies’ favourite but her last attempt, when she was soundly beaten by Corbyn, exposed a lack of chutzpah – she comes across as a cardboard character with robotic answers to questions. A Vauxhall Chevette of a politician. Having said that, she’s a safe pair of hands compared to the current butterfingers leadership.
Meanwhile, a cloud hangs over Chuka Umunna as to why he departed the leadership race so early last time round (well, the penultimate time round as there’s no point counting the chicken coup). Rumours at the time were circulating that the security services had a word. Of course, this is just speculation, but there are some awkward questions that will need to be asked and answered if he does stand again.
David Miliband seems like a long shot and has his hands full with his International Rescue Committee role (earning a salary of £530,000 a year), which has been really busy since his brother Ed voted against British involvement in Syria when he was Labour leader. Since he’s not standing as an MP, we can safely say that he won’t be the next Labour leader. In any case he’ll never shake off his Blair and Brown years.
The most likely of the former leadership candidates to win is surely John McDonnell. Not because he is in any shape or form politically sane or competent, but because the stranglehold the far left has on what remains of the Labour Party seems unshakeable. The far left are playing the long game and don’t care if the party crumbles to a hundred MPs or less, as long as their Marxist plans are funded and they can continue to splash out on hammers and sickles. McDonnell is likely the unions’ choice of leader, unless they wise up and go for someone with the faintest smidgeon of electability.
So that leaves Sir Keir Starmer and Clive Lewis. Let’s rule out the voter repellent like Tom Watson, Emily Thornberry (a possible McDonnell substitute?), Angela Rayner and those who the Corbynites see as the Blairites: Hilary Benn, Stephen Kinnock and the permanent leader in waiting, poor old Dan Jarvis.
Who would the Tories prefer of Starmer and Lewis?
Starmer has plenty of skeletons knocking around from his CPS days – allegedly – and has proven himself a less than electric House of Commons performer. There are rumours he wears lifts which will need to be quashed, of course. Meanwhile Lewis is a novice and has proven himself rather too partial to the occasional hot-headed tweet and faux-pas but he’s affable enough and can string together sentences. There’s a shocking rumour going round that he can even grasp statistics, which is more than certain members of the Shadow Cabinet seem capable of doing. But he has been disloyal to Jeremy Corbyn and those perspicacious, paranoid Trots never forget fast.
In short, creek, paddle and the brown stuff spring to mind. Poor Labour.
You might as well give the Labour leadership to someone as vacuous as Lisa Nandy or witch-bouched (who?) Rebecca Long-Bailey. Let’s face it, even if a marrow took the role, Labour is so far away from power these days that none of its present crop of potential leaders do anything to inspire an electorate already suffering from Corbyn-Blair PTSD. Maybe Labour should be the ones dialling International Rescue?