Joseph Perry’s News Crunch: ABC Easy as 123
Joseph Perry crunches the news of the Labour Leadership contenders.
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Labour moderates and modernisers have mounted one last push to keep veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn away from the party’s leadership position.
They believe victory for Corbyn will consign Labour to defeat in 2020.
Figures including New Labour architect Lord Mandelson have been chairing intense negotiations between representatives of the other candidates in the leadership race. However, so far, attempts to slow the Corbyn surge have proved to be unsuccessful.
Mandelson is believed to have asked Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper to simultaneously withdraw from the leadership ballot over concerns that the contest has been ‘infiltrated’ by members of Britain’s far-left, including communists parties.
While Corbyn has stated that he only wants Labour supporters to vote for him, members of the Green Party, SNP, UKIP, and the Conservatives have encouraged their contemporaries to take part - the latter of whom believe they are voting for Labour’s weakest candidate, thereby maximising Conservative chances in the next General Election.
Labour maintain that they will remove ‘entryists’ when located, even if that is retrospectively. Mandelson’s plan is alleged to have failed when party chief informed the candidates that their withdrawal would result in the coronation of Corbyn, without any need for the contest to be suspended.
Away from the dimly lit rooms of Westminster, Labour activists have encouraged fellow members to vote for ABC; anyone but Corbyn.
The contest uses the Alternative Vote (AV) method, which allows voters to rank the candidates rather than vote for just a single one.
If first preferences have been tallied and none of the four candidates have over 50% of the vote, the last placed one will be eliminated and the second preferences of their supporters counted. This process is completed until a candidate has over half of total support.
In 2011 the UK rejected this method for General Elections after a Lib Dem led referendum, however the process is used in smaller elections including for the London Mayoralship.
This method has led to calls for tactical voting as MPs try to block Corbyn.
Liz Kendall supporter Jamie Reed recently penned an article encouraging her voters to place Andy Burnham second on their ballots, as polls suggest he is better placed to nip Corbyn to 50% than Yvette Cooper is.
While the only living former Labour leaders Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock have all voiced support for ABC or Andy Burnham.
Blair told supporters who believe their heart lies with Corbyn to ‘get a transplant’, while former Home Secretary Jack Straw believes a win for the left winger could lead to a ‘Lazarus like resurrection of the Lib Dems’.
Although the vote opened earlier this week, polls remain open until the 10th September, so those fearing a Corbyn victory will hope that this last gasp intervention won’t turn out to be too little too late.
Why does this matter?
The anti-Corbyn overload shows just how concerned Labour insiders are that he could win the contest.
When he announced his surprise candidacy, Corbyn was 100-1 to become the next Labour leader, now he is evens or better. But it is not just the bookies that make the left-winger their favourite to win; these panic attacks are every indication that internal polling shows the same results.
Some people may argue that speeches made by Gordon Brown and Tony Blair symbolise the divide between the top of the Labour Party and its grassroots supporters.
Many at the bottom of the party believe that Corbyn is the man to return Labour to the left field, away from the political centre ground it relocated to in the Blair years.
Lots feel that the party lost its way in the days of PFI, the Iraq War and Student Tuition Fees. They see Corbyn’s policy as a welcome return home.
However, the fact that Brown and Blair so publicly disapprove of Labour regressing to its previous position are clear indicators of this gulf in direction and belief.
Corbyn has the potential to split Labour in two - with the ‘New’ going one way and the ‘Old’ another.
ABC, 123 (putting Anyone But Corbyn as your top three preferences) is a catchy slogan, but may be paramount to the survival of the Labour Party.
Most in politics will tell you that the four candidates would all struggle to win in 2020, so whoever they elect, they are likely to suffer the same feat.
However, two candidates have the potential to cause long lasting damage. Liz Kendall and Jeremy Corbyn.
Both symbolise, in the eyes of their opponents, failed projects in the history of the Labour Party. Corbyn’s left-wing populism, and Kendall’s centre based policies are reminiscent of life under Michael Foot and Tony Blair respectively.
During both leaderships, many members deserted the party in favour of the then SDP or, more recently, apathy or smaller party’s like the SNP , Greens and Respect.
The feeling I get is that this will happen again, but on a much larger scale should one of the two candidates be elected.
The polls show that Kendall has no chance, so let’s leave her aside for the moment.
The danger of Corbyn is that thousands of supporters won over from the Conservatives by Tony Blair in order to win the 1997, 2001, and 2005 elections will be pushed back or towards the Lib Dems under his leadership.
The greater threat is that MPs will follow them - or form a new party.
However, this is all hypothetical sensationalism. Let’s wait and see who wins the contest first and take it from there.
Even if he can take the leadership next month, my gut instinct still tells me ABC will lead Labour into 2020.
To hear Joseph breakdown more of the week’s biggest stories, listen to TeenScope this Sunday (28th) at 9pm UK time.]