Members of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) have decided that Jeremy Corbyn’s name must appear on voting slips for the Labour leadership, by a majority of 18 votes to 14.
Speculation was rife that the Labour leader had lost this fight when NEC members voted earlier today to hold a secret ballot, by a majority of 17-15. There is no provision in the Labour Party Rule Book for the NEC to vote secretly, so This Writer was one of several commentators to call this into question. I still think the vote should have been recorded.
Now, members of the conspiracy that has been trying to unseat Mr Corbyn since June 26 have the option of legal action to reverse the ruling. This will tie up Labour in an onerous legal process, probably for many weeks, while the Conservatives regroup behind new prime minister-designate Theresa May.
There is nothing to stop Mrs May from calling a snap general election just as soon as she gets the chance. If she does, it is likely that all 172 Labour MPs who voted to remove Mr Corbyn may themselves be unseated, as the public reacts to their treachery. But this would also mean the end of Labour as a national political force – at least for the time being.
On the other hand, it is possible that Mr Corbyn’s place on the ballot paper will go unchallenged, allowing Stephen Kinnock and some of the others who have been talking down members’ support for Jeremy Corbyn to find out whether they are right. This Writer thinks they’ll have a nasty surprise and Mr Corbyn will be returned with an increased majority.
It is also possible that members’ support for Mr Corbyn may have swayed the NEC more than any legal concerns. If Corbyn had been blocked, then hundreds of thousands of members were likely to leave the party, and hundreds of thousands more were likely to have stayed on only to foil the anti-Corbyn conspirators in any further anti-democratic action.
Suppose this had happened, and Theresa May called an election? Then, Labour really would be finished.
Perhaps it would be better if the conspirators accepted defeat, formed a little party of their own, and followed the accepted procedure of going through by-elections against new Labour candidates, along with those of other parties.
Jeremy Corbyn would have the support of MPs who really wanted to campaign for his policies. It would be for the good of the Labour Party.
But then, did anybody really believe that Angela Eagle, Owen Smith, Hilary Benn, Margaret Hodge and the others really had the good of the Labour Party at heart?
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