The UK’s Labour Party post-Brexit turmoil reached a new level today, as leader Jeremy Corbyn lost a no-confidence vote. Labour Members of Parliament, through a secret ballot, were pretty brutal in how they feel about Corbyn’s tenure as Labour leader; only 40 of Labour’s 212 MPs present during the vote backed him. The Washington Post reported that the vote was non-binding, but would most likely trigger a leadership election that Corbyn could win. As for the accusations of being lackluster for the “Remain” camp during the European Union referendum, the publication added that Corbyn has had a worried relationship regarding his feeling for the EU. He thinks of the political organization as one fraught with corporate interests (via WaPo):
Breaking - Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, says 'if I had lost support of 80pc of my MSPs I could not do my job'— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) June 28, 2016
Corbyn has suggested he will run again — and he could well win, given his popularity with the rank and file.
A former member of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, Chris Bryant, told the BBC on Monday that he believed the Labour leader may have actually voted to leave in the privacy of the voting booth. Corbyn’s backers have disputed that.
Critics also worry that Corbyn could lead the party to an electoral wipeout if the Conservatives call a new election before year’s end.
In a speech Tuesday, senior Labour politician Yvette Cooper — who lost to Corbyn in last year’s leadership contest — said she hoped he would step aside.
“I am very concerned that Jeremy Corbyn has no plan to reunite the Labour movement, no plan to respond to the deep and serious issues the referendum has thrown up, and no plan for a looming general election,” she said.
Jack Straw tells @SkyNews it is a "Trotskyist fantasy" that Jeremy Corbyn can carry on as Labour leader— Chris Mason (@ChrisMasonBBC) June 28, 2016
Jack Straw on Labour @SkyNews: "the most serious crisis since at least 1935, when we had another incompetent pacifist leader."— Chris Mason (@ChrisMasonBBC) June 28, 2016
The vote is a critical point in the ongoing civil war, which has erupted within the British Labour Party. Over the weekend, a mountain of shadow cabinet resignations hit Corbyn. This string of resignations continued into Monday, with the London Young Labour organization releasing their statement on why they’ve lost confidence in Corbyn as leader. Over at the BBC, there were warnings of Labour being wiped out if Corbyn remained as leader in the next general election; the horrific optics that Labour is not a government in waiting, given the disintegration of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet; and the notion that maybe Corbyn’s supporters should split from Labour to form their own “suicidal kamikaze party.”
Ex-Labour communications chief Alastair Campbell acknowledges Jeremy Corbyn won a huge mandate from Labour members last year but says "the bigger question" is: "Does he have the ability to lead?"
"He cannot do the job," Mr Campbell says. He says he too wants a fairer society but asks "where's the policy" from Mr Corbyn's team.
He accuses the Labour leader of "speaking to the converted", including at the Momentum rally outside Parliament on Monday, adding: "We're going to get wiped out if he stays."
"I hope that in the next 24 hours he will reflect on the strength of feeling," Labour MP Melanie Onn advises Jeremy Corbyn.
Ms Onn, who has stepped down as shadow deputy leader of the Commons, says voters "want a credible opposition and they want a government in waiting, and we are not that at the moment".
Since the no confidence vote in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, there have been more resignations from the Labour front bench
Sarah Champion has stepped down as shadow Home Office minister
Lyn Brown has resigned as shadow Home Office minister
Kevin Brennan, shadow business, innovation and skills minister
Clive Efford, shadow culture, media and sport minister
Former Labour minister David Blunkett thinks that Jeremy Corbyn supporters should leave Labour and form their own "suicidal, kamikaze party".
Prior to the vote, Corbyn was defiant, saying he wouldn’t step down—and that Labour shouldn’t let the media divide the party. This isn’t the first time Labour has had to deal with the disastrous consequences with tolerating far left elements within the party. The Trotskyite Militant Tendency tried to hijack the Labour Party around the time future prime ministers Gordon Brown and Tony Blair were serving as new MPs for their respective constituencies of Dunfermline East (now defunct) and Sedgefield respectively in the early 1980s.
Thanks to the Tendency, Labour wandered in the political wilderness between 1979 and 1997, as the Conservative Party—under Margaret Thatcher and John Major—were elected to form successive governments. Neil Kinnock, who was elected Labour Leader after Michael Foot’s resignation following the party’s disastrous 1983 election results, deployed the first of many maneuvers to purge Militant from Labour’s ranks. By 1997, it was Labour that was able to win a landslide victory over the Conservatives.
It seems the old fight between pragmatic Labour party members and hard left activists might be happening again.
Politico reported yesterday on the meeting between Corbyn and Labour MPs, in which members were nothing short of brutal in their criticism towards their leader:
Ian Murray, Edinburgh South
“It’s not about you Jeremy. You’re not just letting the party down, but the whole country.”
Bridget Phillipson, Houghton and Sunderland South
“You’re not fit to be prime minister and you’ve got to resign.”
Alan Johnson, West Hull and Hessle and leader of the Labour In campaign
“I fought the [EU referendum] campaign and I take my responsibility, but you’ve got to take yours. Your office did not even turn up for the weekly meetings.”
Clive Efford, Eltham
“I gave you the benefit of the doubt. It’s not about yourself Jeremy but you’re not a prime minister and you’re not electable.”
Chris Matheson, Chester
“You’ve got to step down.”
Chris Bryant, Rhonda
“You’re not uniting the party. You’ve got no vision. The only person who can break this logjam is you by resigning.”
Ivan Lewis, Bury South
“It’s time to be honest with yourself. You’re not a leader. You need to go for the sake of the party.”
Key conclusion :There WILL be a vote on Margaret Hodge motion of no confidence, PLP decided.— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) June 27, 2016
Corbyn spokesman message to Labour MPs: "No whispering, no corridor coups. Get the names and mount a challenge." #labour— Vicki Young (@BBCVickiYoung) June 27, 2016
Senior Labour MP tells me after PLP that "Jeremy just won't take responsibility. The people around him bear a heavy responsibility"— Isabel Hardman (@IsabelHardman) June 27, 2016