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Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Fending off a very-Labour Party coup

Things have been quiet for some time around the splits in the Parliamentary Labour Party as everybody concentrates instead on the near-civil war that has erupted amongst the Conservatives over Europe.

However, just when you thought they had got away with it, Jeremy Corbyn's rather paranoid supporters bring us back to the issue nobody in the Labour Party wants to talk about, a possible coup against the leader.

The Times reports that the Labour leader's allies are seeking to force through a rule change at Labour’s conference to ensure that he could stand if he were challenged for the leadership. The paper says that under the present rules it takes 51 MPs and MEPs to trigger a leadership election before the party conference by nominating an alternative candidate. But it is unclear whether Jeremy Corbyn would be allowed to stand in a fresh race and, if so, whether he, too, would have to win the backing of 20 per cent of MPs and MEPs first.

In fact fears that Corbyn would mobilise activists to win a second leadership election have led some of his fiercest critics to conclude that a coup attempt this year could end up cementing his position. Nevertheless, others want to cover him for all possibilities:

The Campaign for Labour Party Democracy — the hard-left faction that includes Jon Lansman, founder of Momentum, a leftwing group formed after Mr Corbyn’s election, and Ken Livingstone — is pushing for a clarification of the rules that would ensure thta Mr Corbyn’s name was included on a leadership ballot.

Local parties are being urged to submit two motions for a rule change “to avoid the party being involved in legal battles” at this year’s autumn conference, which will be held in Liverpool.
One amends the rules to add that “the incumbent will be automatically included on the ballot paper”.

The second reduces from 15 per cent to 5 per cent the number of parliamentary Labour party nominations required for leadership contests, further weakening the power of MPs to block candidates.

Yesterday Mr Lansman warned plotters that Momentum was ready to mobilise if Mr Corbyn were challenged.

“We campaigned to elect him and we will most certainly defend him and support him if there is a challenge. We absolutely have the machinery to run another leadership campaign if we have to and we are absolutely equipped to do that. And we will if necessary and I am confident we will win it,” he told The Guardian.

Labour MPs say that the rule changes would give Mr Corbyn unprecedented power. “It looks like Jeremy’s supporters want us to spend the next six months talking to ourselves about rules to change the Labour party instead of talking to the public about ideas to change Britain,” one said.

It seems that faced with a Tory Party fighting amongst itself over the future of the UK, Labour wants to turn in on itself rather than present the electorate with a credible alternative.
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