The Tories are in utter crisis after David Cameron said he will resign, kicking off a brutal leadership contest that will deepen their splits. At just this moment some Labour MPs think the right response is to divide their own party.
This morning, Sunday, shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn told Corbyn that he no longer had confidence in him as Labour leader. Corbyn rightly sacked him.
Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander and shadow young people’s minister Gloria De Piero have resigned from the shadow cabinet, and there is open speculation that half the shadow ministers could follow.
It is less than a year since Corbyn was elected as leader. The election results for Labour in May were generally better than many on the right had predicted—or hoped.
They are now trying to use the European Union (EU) referendum result to say he failed to get the Labour vote out, and must go.
It may be that the looming Chilcot report on the Iraq war, to be published on 6 July, hurried the plot along. Its real significance is that it will remind everyone of the disgusting role that Tony Blair and his supporters played.
The first moves came on Friday as MPs Dame Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey submitted a motion of no confidence against Corbyn in a letter to the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) chairman John Cryer. If Corbyn’s inability to persuade Labour voters to back Cameron’s referendum is the real reason for him to go, Hodge might want to explain why her area of Barking and Dagenham voted Leave.
Everyone on the left should stand with Corbyn against the Labour right’s undemocratic manoeuvres.
They say they are reflecting what their constituents say. But a measure of their commitment to “listening to voters” came when Tottenham MP David Lammy urged MPs to ignore the EU referendum result and refuse to implement it.
Shadow development secretary Diane Abbott said "There has been a plan to challenge Jeremy for a long time, because many have failed to reconcile themselves with his victory last year.
“They planned this for months, everyone knows that.” But she was confident that “the trade unions who provide the foundation and support for the labour movement are behind Jeremy, they are not going to swing behind some breakaway Labour Party faction.”
On Friday 12 trade union general secretaries including Len McCluskey (Unite), Dave Prentis (Unison) and Tim Roache (GMB) said, “The last thing Labour needs is a manufactured leadership row of its own in the midst of this crisis and we call upon all Labour MPs not to engage in any such indulgence.”
British politics is in utter turmoil. None of the main parties are in a position to connect easily with the mood of revolt against the establishment that was the strongest feature of the referendum revolt.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said he thinks there will be a general election in November, although it could be May next year.
Corbyn will not survive unless he mobilises outside parliament—and the Labour Party. He will never satisfy the large majority of Labour MPs and compromises with them only help the right. Benn should have been sacked when he defied Corbyn over the bombing of Syria.
The Labour left has been too ready to put “party unity” before stopping the right. It is time for an open fight, not conciliation.
Corbyn should rely on the wider support for action against austerity It is good that Labour grassroots movement Momentum says it plans phone banks across Britain to bring out its supporters to back Corbyn.
But the strongest move would be if Corbyn, Momentum, left Labour MPs, the union leaders and campaigning groups call for mobilisations against austerity and racism in the workplaces and the streets.