BY JOHN ISMAEL
So, John Mann, the Labour MP for Bassetlaw, has stated what many see as the obvious: Jeremy Corbyn is too old to be Prime Minister. Therefore, he should not stand as Leader of the Labour Party after the fixed term parliament delivers a new General Election in 2022.
Mann said in an interview with Blairite commentator Richard Angell, covered by the Mail: ‘I think the next Election will be in 2022, by which stage Jeremy Corbyn will be 73 and facing the prospect of being Prime Minister at 78. I have no intention of being an MP in my 70s, never mind anything more than that. So, I don’t think Corbyn will be [prime minister]. I think there will be a new leader of the Labour Party by the next General Election. I don’t know who it will be, but I think it will be a woman – and it should be a woman.’
Mann’s statement proffers two questions:
First, will Corbyn be too old to be Prime Minister?
The evidence would suggest that no. When Sir Winston Churchill resigned as Prime Minister due to ill health he was 80 years old. Lord Palmerston died in office aged 80. The second time Benjamin Disraeli became Prime Minister he was 70 years old and left the post when he was 75. William Gladstone served as Prime Minister on four separate occasions spanning a period of over twenty years and when he stepped down for the final time he was an impressive 84 years-old. All were considered competent.
The Corbynites point to the US, where Trump became President aged 70, although few of them go so far as to call Trump competent. Previously, the oldest elected president was Ronald Reagan, who took the oath of office at the age of 69 in 1981.
Second, who on earth will replace Corbyn if Mann is correct in saying that there will be a new leader of the Labour Party by the next General Election?
Mann’s hope that the next Labour leader will be a woman seems forlorn. Leading female Labour MPs tipped to replace Mr Corbyn include Emily Thornberry, Diane Abbott, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Angela Rayner. Guildford-born snob Thornberry has recently been on manoeuvres in the Guardian much to Corbyn’s annoyance but surely she can never get over her white van man comments, which she’d need to. Abbott’s maths and reverse racism are massive weaknesses and she’s the subject of too much ridicule. Wicked Witch of the West lookalike Rebecca Long-Bailey is even less alluring as a potential leader and is too prone to car crash interviews. Meanwhile, how could Angela Rayner ever become Prime Minister? All credit to her for becoming the first Shadow Education Secretary prone to misspelled tweets but in her own words she admits she’s ‘a gangsta granny punching above her gene pool in this job’.
It’s about time Labour had a female leader but, presuming a leader is chosen from Corbyn-supporting MPs, we’re really scraping the barrel. A glance at the men doesn’t bring much hope either. Clive Lewis has ruled himself out with his ‘get on your knees comment’. Sadiq Khan has been awful as Mayor and there are rumours swirling about his old law firm. Keir Starmer was the great hope of the party’s David Miliband crew but has proven himself wanting. Chuka Umunna lives up to his name amongst the Corbynites. Tom Watson – too many files and flies. Barry Gardiner is probably the most competent of the lot but comes across as creepy.
I suppose there’s always Owen Jones?