by Paul Gaugh | Opinion
Already Helen Goodman is a bit perplexed by the tactics: “I cannot see why if you table a reasoned amendment rejecting a bill you would then go onto abstain in a further vote on the bill. It would be best to oppose all the way through because of the damage the bill does to people in poverty.”
|* Paul Gaugh|
The hot news overnight, after a rash of meetings, is that Jeremy Corbyn has moved into the lead in Constitutency Labour Party nominations. He has 55 to Andy Burnham’s 51. Yvette Cooper has 42 (though her camp points out she comes close in 2nd prefs to both Burnham and Corbyn in CLPs). Liz Kendall has just 10. Real or imagined, the narrative of ‘Stormin’ Corbyn’ just ain’t going away.
Some MPs think the ‘private polling’ story in the Statesman was just spin by the Kendall camp, a last throw of the dice to pitch the race as a fight between the 1980s and a fresh Blairite face. Chuka Umunna certainly went for it on Newsnight, comparing his party to a ‘petulant child’. The Kendall camp kinda think the party is indulging in self-harm and not just sleepwalking to disaster. But Kendall has some powerful new backers, with three former women chief whips - Ann Taylor, Hilary Armstrong and Jacqui Smith- all coming out to support her in a HuffPost blog today.
Harriet Harman knows more than most how the party has been dragged leftwards by the new intake and by 5 years of Milifandom. Yesterday - after intense face-to-face meetings with some in the Shadow Cabinet - she caved to pressure to table a reasoned amendment opposing the Second Reading of the welfare bill. But I note that the acting leader is standing firm on her principle that if the amendment falls, she will order her troops to abstain on Second Reading. I understand yesterday’s amendment was aimed at reducing a sizeable rebellion next week to a small one.
The Guardian has a line about just how leftward things could go. It quotes Max Shanly, a Corbyn supporter on the national committee of Young Labour and active in Unite, saying the PLP will split “with the Blairites buggering off to form a new SDP...The Labour left will have to act swiftly and I am afraid brutally in many cases. The PLP will have to be brought into line, some members of party staff will need to be pointed towards the exit”.
The FT has a further drip feed of its Len McCluskey interview in which he says Unite could consider campaigning for a No vote in the EU referendum. The idea is growing on the left that if Cameron abandons workers’ rights, there’s no point staying in. Alan Johnson told me this month “that's like saying you've lost something in negotiations, you're going to de-recognise the union”.
Ministers have been swapping anecdotes about David Cameron bumping into Corbyn outside the 1922 Committee this week. Cameron joked that he had lots of tips on how to come through a summer of leadership campaigning, though Corbyn may not have picked up the PM's gag that he was now helping the Tory cause.
If Corbyn is elected leader, I wonder if he’d be tempted to veer off down the No camp. But that would surely lead to an SDP-style schism. Tim Farron’s election herald closer ties with Labour. Note that last night Lord Steel told the PM programme “Under first-past-the-post as an election system, you really have to be a bit more sensible about where you deploy your candidates...” Watch that space.
* Paul Waugh, is the Executive Editor, Politics, HuffPost UK.