by Paul Waugh | Politics Update:
|* Paul Gaugh|
After the Blair-Corbyn tit-for-tat yesterday, this morning the Labour leadership race has yet another narrative twist: pressure on candidates to drop out to help ‘Stop Jeremy’.
Liz Kendall’s campaign staged its own dawn raid, pinging out texts insisting she would absolutely, categorically not be withdrawing from the race. "It's not going to happen,” a spokesman said. “Why should the one person who is putting forward the right message for Labour's future pull out? Liz Kendall's argument that the party must change to win in 2020 is essential in this contest."
The declaration followed a canny bit of negative briefing by critics of the Kendall campaign. “There’s quite a bit of private pressure building up on Liz,” a senior ‘Labour figure who claims to be neutral’ told the Times. An MP added: “It may have to be Liz saying, ‘Look, I’m not going to win’. And one ally of Yvette Cooper called on Kendall to make a sacrifice similar to that made by Gordon Brown, who stood aside to allow Mr Blair a clear run in Labour’s leadership race. “The moderates came together to make sure they didn’t split the vote in 1994 — something like that needs to happen again.”
This kind of thing first appeared in the Labour First campaign to get each of the Burnham, Cooper and Kendall camps to vote tactically to stop CLPs nominating Corbyn. That hasn’t stopped Corbyn stormin’ to first place in CLP endorsements.
On the Today programme, Cooper said Kendall should not pull out. “Certainly not, I don’t think she should go home and leave it to the boys just because of one poll in the Times newspaper”.
|Labour Party Leadership Contenders: Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham,|
Yvette Cooper and Jeremy Corbyn. (Criedit: via Paul Waugh).
The Corbyn Effect is certainly working on other candidates who feel they have to be more vocal on things like austerity. Cooper has been accused by rival camps of being too close to Harriet Harman but today she said the welfare bill fiasco was “a mess...the whole thing has been badly handled” before adding ‘I’m not going to get into the politics of blame...’.
The Shadow Home Sec said she was today launching a campaign against the Tories’ ‘two-child policy’.
As for serving in a Corbyn Shadow Cabinet, Andy Burnham last night was the only contender to say he’d be prepared to do that. Cooper at first said it was ‘unlikely’. She told Today “I wouldn’t stand for the Shadow Cabinet elections” [which Corbyn would reintroduce] under a Corbyn leadership, but then added “you shouldn’t just take your bat and ball home.” Her critics have already pounced to say that’s more fudge.
Last night’s LBC hustings had a neat format that yielded the most eclectic questions yet. We learned that ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon was Corbyn’s favourite song for any victory rally. Still, it’s hard to imagine all the Labour people, living in perfect peace, if he becomes leader.
Yet Corbyn’s Achilles heel could be his anti-Europeanism. On LBC he refused to say whether he would vote Yes in the EU in a referendum. That taps into the wider Owen Jones worldview that this is now a bosses Europe, as well as an older vestigial anti-Common Market stance of the Foot Left. One to watch, that.
One great irony behind the Corbyn surge is that YouGov finds him overwhelmingly in the lead among ‘registered supporters’ who pay £3, as well as trade union affiliates. Some MPs are muttering that Harman’s biggest mistake hasn’t been the welfare muddle but her decision to open up the election to the new registered supporters, overnight reducing the years of protection against entryism by far-left groups such as Militant.
Latest figures show that there are 17,850 registered supporters and 25,388 trade union affiliates, with another 30,000 applications being processed. That could mean nearly a third of the total ‘membership’ made up of left-leaning union members: OMOV may not have changed much at all. And the NEC were told this week that a third of the 55,000 new members joining the party May are under 30, and the single most common age is 18. No wonder they like Corbyn’s tuition fee and anti-cuts messages. Jezzamania could be Milifandom writ large.
* Paul Waugh, is the Executive Editor, Politics, HuffPost UK.