Was June 30 the day the coup against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn began to crumble?
It may be too early to tell for sure, but the signs are there.
We all know the narrative: Labour MPs, disgruntled at having a proper left-wing leader for the first time since Tony Blair took over in 1994, executed a long-planned rebellion against Mr Corbyn, starting on Sunday.
The strategy was to try to shame the leader into quitting his job; with a huge mandate from the party’s membership, they knew it would be impossible to oust him in an election.
So Hilary Benn, who had spoken against Mr Corbyn’s policy on air strikes in Syria and (to his shame) won applause from the Conservative benches in Parliament when he did, told Mr Corbyn he had lost confidence in his leadership. Corbyn fired him on the spot.
Perhaps he knew that this was a trap; John McDonnell later said he and Mr Corbyn had been awaiting a coup for months. So he did something the plotters against him may not have been expecting. He sprung their trap for them.
First came the resignations – a score of Shadow Cabinet ministers quit in a series of on-the-hour declarations that we were all supposed to believe were unplanned. These resignations were followed by more, from MPs in junior posts.
Mr Corbyn appointed new members.
Then came the vote of ‘no confidence’ – a hurried, anonymous affair in which 172 members of the Parliamentary Labour Party supported Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey’s motion.
But it was unconstitutional and carried no weight, so Mr Corbyn ignored it.
After that, we’ve had the begging letters – missives from rebel MPs calling on Mr Corbyn to quit. Alan Johnson’s – addressed to his constituency party – defies belief. Mr Johnson, the man who utterly failed to energise Labour members and supporters to vote ‘Remain’ in the EU referendum, and who eventually had to appeal to Mr Corbyn for help, described that help as follows: “The lukewarm approach by Jeremy was bad enough but there is no doubt in my mind that at least three of his closest associates in the Leader’s office were actively undermining the Party’s efforts… His performance in the campaign was risible and a taster of what to expect in a General Election. The fact that he refuses to take any responsibility whatsoever adds insult to injury.”
Mr Corbyn delivered 63 per cent of the Labour vote – nearly two-thirds – to ‘Remain’; more than any other party leader. Nicola Sturgeon, who convinced 64 per cent of SNP supporters to vote ‘Remain’ (a much smaller number of actual voters) was hailed a hero; Mr Corbyn was vilified by the main who should have been leading the campaign.
Oh, and there was a bilious meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party in which Labour MPs lined up to, in the words of Diane Abbott: “attack Jeremy Corbyn in the most contemptuous terms possible, pausing only to text their abuse to journalists waiting outside… Nobody talked about Jeremy Corbyn’s politics. There was only one intention: to break him as a man.”
They didn’t. After the meeting he addressed a rally of his supporters in Parliament Square, totalling around 10,000 people (different commentators provide different numbers, depending which side of this split they have taken.
And now the tide has begun to turn, it seems:
Former shadow cabinet members are apparently admitting that they were bullied into resigning and now regret it.
Ten major unions announced their support for Mr Corbyn:Labour Party membership increased by 60,000 in the past week – and 85 per cent of these new members said they were signing up to support Mr Corbyn.
There was an 11.5 per cent swing from UKIP to Mr Corbyn’s Labour in a council by-election last night (June 30).
A bid to hold a leadership election has stalled, with preferred candidate Angela Eagle waiting a day “to give Jeremy a chance to resign” after being mauled on the social media – and a member of the public discovered a website domain bought in her name – ‘Angela4leader’ – on Saturday, That’s right – before all the unpleasantness kicked off, proving it was pre-planned and not a result of the EU referendum (as had been claimed).
Also started before the ‘coup’ was the anti-Corbyn site ‘Saving Labour’.
And in the last 24 hours, it seems the plotters and their friends have been trying to spread lies about Jeremy Corbyn and those who have stayed loyal to him.
So Diane Abbott tweeted: “Here I am on the HOC terrace, yet the BBC is reporting that I am blocking JC office door!”
And Andy Burnham tweeted this:
Rebecca Long-Bailey, recently appointed to Mr Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet, tweeted: “I’ve Heard rumours I am pressing Jez to resign – not true, I am not and continue to support him 100%.”
Labour councillor Drew Gale tweeted: “I am on the list of cllrs wanting JC to stand down I DID NOT SIGN UP TO THIS – I DEMAND MY NAME BE REMOVED IMMEDIATELY!” in response to an article on LabourList, calling the veracity of all the other signatures into question.
The tide is turning, it seems.
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