Jeremy Corbyn is in no hurry.
He knows his opponents are. They know he is almost certain to retain the leadership of the Labour Party with an increased mandate when the election results are announced on Saturday. That’s why they want to push through changes to the way the leader is elected, and to the way the shadow cabinet is appointed, at today’s (September 20) National Executive Committee meeting.
But he won’t see the need. A new NEC comes into operation after the party conference, with more members who support him. He can afford to wait until the votes are on his side.
And he has the better arguments. Why return to the ‘electoral college’ system of voting in a leader when the current, ‘one member, one vote’ system has boosted party membership – and funds – enormously? That doesn’t make organisational or financial sense.
And, while he is not opposed to elections for shadow cabinet members, Mr Corbyn is also right to say that all the current proposals are last-minute affairs that have not benefited from proper consultation and due process. A rushed decision is often a bad one.
Also, delaying these matters until after conference may derail some of the anti-Corbyn resolutions that are being tabled by the right-wingers of Labour First, all of whom lost their places in the NEC during the summer elections.
Say what you like about Mr Corbyn – at least he has found a way to make committee meetings interesting.
A crunch Labour meeting aimed at reuniting the parliamentary party seems set for deadlock after it emerged that Jeremy Corbyn will reject all the immediate changes proposed by his deputy.
Earlier on Tuesday, Tom Watson urged Labour to “put the band back together” by adopting elections for shadow cabinet positions, which he sees as a way to tempt back discontented MPs who left Corbyn’s frontbench over the summer.
However, a source close to the Labour leader said that while Corbyn supported shadow cabinet elections as part of a wider examination of democracy in the party, he wanted to postpone the consideration of any changes until after the party’s annual conference.
That conference will start in Liverpool on Saturday with the announcement of the results of the leadership vote, which is expected to deliver a victory for Corbyn over his challenger, Owen Smith.
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