A few more leadership thoughts

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Diane Abbott running? Hoooo-ey, didn’t see that coming!

Ms Abbott has many well-known faults but her candidacy certainly makes the contest more interesting and I’m glad she’s put herself forward.

John McDonnell’s clearly a more serious socialist alternative than Abbott. The question is whether both of them – or indeed either of them – can get the necessary 33 nominations from their fellow Labour MPs.

Abbott seems a tad more confident than McD. Apart from anything else, the fact that these two Socialist Campaign Group members are simultaneously standing shows how disorganised that ‘campaign’ is.

I agree with the rule that candidates need to be nominated by a percentage of Labour MPs. One of the core objectives of Labour is to maintain a parliamentary party. It would be ridiculous to have a Labour leader who couldn’t command the support of even a modest number of MPs.

In theory getting 12.5% of your colleagues to nominate you sounds reasonable. It shouldn’t be too much of an ask, which makes McDonnell’s complaints about it being too difficult sound quite whingey.

However, we also know that many MPs want to be on the ‘winning team’ and are too conservative-minded to take a risk nominating someone who might have something to contribute to a far-reaching internal debate but isn’t established as a credible leadership contender. At the moment each MP is only able to make a single nomination.

So perhaps the 12.5% threshold should be maintained but MPs could be allowed to sign the nomination papers of multiple candidates. For example, a confused leftie like Jeremy Corbyn could endorse both his Hackney neighbour Abbott and the Campaign Group chair McDonnell. Or an MP who just can’t get enough of that Miliband magic would be able to nominate David AND Ed!

This would maintain the ‘security measure’ of leaders of the Labour Party requiring a certain amount of support from the PLP whilst more MPs would be able to stand in the contest. 

Obviously this measure would still mean that the PLP maintained the initiative over the whole process and would not necessarily guarantee a healthy choice of candidates. But it would be a step in the right direction.

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2 Responses to “A few more leadership thoughts”

  1. Dan Says:

    Is it too much to ask that Labour MPs loyally support whoever is elected the leader of their party?

    12.5% proves nothing but that a hostile media has granted a candidate enough of a sheen of electability that backbenchers risk supporting them. It in no way guarantees support from the PLP. A candidate could win an outright majority of MPs’ support, and under the electoral college still lose to an opponent who won a mere eighth of Labour MPs.

    It’s ludicrous that party members and affiliated trade unionists are precluded from deeming who is an acceptable choice of leader.

    MPs are deciding these issues before the campaign even begins. They are making their minds up, not on the basis of how well the candidates have performed in debates and events around the country over the coming months, but how they are perceived in the press *before* they’ve even had a chance to make their own case.

    The threshold is a way for the old guard to monopolise the limelight and to preclude the possibility of criticism of the last government. If Messrs Balls and Milibands really are the best possible leader, they will win, whether it’s just them in the contest or half the PLP. Bureaucratic manoeuvres should be unnecessary for anyone confident in their appeal.

  2. captainjako Says:

    Is it too much to ask that Labour MPs loyally support whoever is elected the leader of their party?

    Let’s be realistic: yes.

    Anyway, fair enough on all the other stuff.

    The experience of the last few years (esp. the lack of proper competition or debate in the 2007 leadership handover) has certainly demonstrated the danger of handing over the vast bulk of internal party power to the PLP. Some rebalancing in the structure is needed.

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