Was it not Lucy Powell’s husband who – in April – told a commenter to This Blog that the “coup” (his word) would take place after the EU referendum?
Yes it was – just ask Malc Cowle.
Now she turns up on the Guardian‘s live blog, quoting dodgy polls – let’s face it, all the polls are dodgy these days – and misquoting the Labour Party Rule Book. She could be drummed out of the party for failing to support the rules, you know.
For clarity, the rule book (Chapter 4, Clause II, 2Bii) states: “Where there is no vacancy, nominations may be sought by potential challengers each year prior to the annual session of Party conference. In this case any nomination must be supported by 20 per cent of the Commons members of the PLP. Nominations not attaining this threshold shall be null and void.”
So nominations must only by sought “by potential challengers”, not the incumbent leader, and any nomination – of “potential challengers” must be supported by 20 per cent of the Commons members of the PLP. As you can see, no reference is made to the leader at all, let alone the possibility of that person having to seek nominations and support.
But Lucy Powell said:
“I think the support for him amongst party members is falling and is falling very quickly indeed. If you look at the polling that is happening amongst party members, amongst trade union affiliates, what’s coming up from the grassroots. If you look at my own party in my own constituency, I’ve had many, many emails and phone calls from people who voted for Jeremy last year who now think that it is untenable that he can continue without the support of his parliamentary colleagues.”
And what about the voting at constituency party level, where 96 CLPs have now held votes of confidence in Mr Corbyn? Of these, 80 declared that they had confidence in him (83 per cent) and only 16 said they didn’t.
Let’s look at the party’s rules. The Graun says this:
Lawyers are divided as to whether “any nomination” applies just [to] people challenging the leader, or to anyone wanting to take part in the ballot, including the leader.
We can see that “any nomination” can only apply to people challenging the leader, who is not mentioned as having to seek nominations at all. Sorry to keeping hammering on about this. I know it is very simple to understand, but some very intelligent people seem to be having trouble with it.
Powell also quoted this passage from the Collins Review into Labour Party Reform published in 2014.
However, in recognition of the fact that the leader of the Labour party has a special duty to head the parliamentary Labour party in Westminster, MPs will retain the responsibility of deciding the final shortlist of candidates that will be put to the ballot.
This, of course, means nothing. The Collins Review is not a Labour Party document and the quotation does not mention any source material for the assertion.
Powell also said:
Whilst I would be confident of any contest, I think that our forefathers and those that drew up our constitution, including many trade union leaders, would have never imagined a circumstance where a leader of the Labour party was seeking to continue on the basis of having less than 20% support of his MPs.
This is also hard to support because, when the Labour Party’s originators drew up its constitution, the party didn’t have any MPs – or at least, not enough to make a material difference. The membership would have been the vital force.
As it should be now.
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