A week is a long time in politics. Since the announcement that the people of the UK voted to leave the European Union just a week ago we have seen the emergence of insidious opportunism in both of our main political parties.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been under attack by his own MP’s who overwhelmingly backed a vote of no confidence in their own leader. On Thursday MP Angela Eagle found herself in a very awkward position. As Eagle left her home in the morning she told waiting journalists that she would be making an announcement at 3pm. It was widely presumed that she would mount a leadership challenge.
3pm came and went and Eagle found herself in a very difficult position. Her Constituency Labour party made it clear that they back Corbyn and the signs are that the Labour membership has not weakened in its overwhelming support for Jeremy Corbyn. As the weekend has arrived we have seen well supported events across the country in support of Jeremy Corbyn. The fact is that Corbyn has overwhelming support among the membership, it is very doubtful that he can be unseated if he does not resign.
Make no mistake, this attempted coup has nothing to do with Brexit. The Tory mouthpiece newspaper The Telegraph reported two weeks before the referendum that Labour MP’s would attempt to remove Corbyn following the EU vote. The assumption was that put under enough pressure Corbyn would fold and resign. The man has shown he is made of the right stuff and stood firm. The Parliamentary Labour Party have treated the party membership with absolute distain. The membership have been branded as “lunatics” and Trotskyists by those who are supposed to represent them.
According to Sky News Corbyn is now ready to reach out to heal the rifts in the Labour Party. In my view that would be a mistake. I have no doubt that those who have betrayed both their leader and the membership would simply bide their time to backstab Corbyn at every opportunity. I would like to see Corbyn take a different route, one that could deliver the new style of politics that Corbyn is desperate to see.
With so many of his own MP’s backstabbing him Corbyn is in a difficult position. Those who walked out of shadow cabinet posts did so in a way calculated to cause maximum damage to Corbyn and the party. These snakes must not be trusted again but that would potentially leave Corbyn in a position that he cannot assemble a full front-bench team.
If Corbyn truly wants to change politics he has the chance to do so. On Thursday the Green Party published an open letter to Corbyn inviting him to form a progressive alliance to fight against austerity. I believe that this offers a unique opportunity. Corbyn should appoint Green Party MP Caroline Lucas to environment and cherry pick talent from across the Lib Dem’s, SNP and Plaid Cymru to support his front bench team.
There is a real upside to this approach. If all of the progressive parties agreed to stand a single candidate against the Tories we could wipe the tories off the political map. A progressive alliance would certainly be a new type of politics. Of course those who are wed to the partisan style of politics, the politics that fails to represent the views of the electorate.
I hope that Corbyn will stand strong and overcome the plot to destroy him, if he does he can change the face of politics in the UK for ever.