Archive for the 'Labour leadership' Category


Six of the top seven in the betting on Corbyn’s successor are women

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

Chart of Betfair exchange prices from

How will leadership hopefuls vote on the key Commons brexit moves?

With Corbyn’s announcement that he’ll step down if he fails to lead LAB to victory in the general election there’s renewed interest in the betting on who will be the successor. We could be only a few months from a contest.

Two factors stand out. Firstly there’s a widespread view within the movement, including from the boss of UNITE, that LAB needs to have a female leader and that clearly is having an impact on punters and the party. The other factor is Brexit and how those likely to be contenders use the their votes in the coming big decisions in the Commons.

An indication of how important this is was the Euro election in May, Then YouGov polling of the party membership found that just 45% had supported their party. 19% had gone for the Greens, 15% the LDs and 2% CHUK. Just 4% had voted for Farage’s Brexit party.

This suggests that the membership is pro-remain – a factor that we saw at the party conference last month when the approach to Brexit was being resolved. My guess is that even those closest to the incumbent are going to be mindful of the anti-Brexit nature of the electorate.

This could be crucial if it comes to agreeing or blocking a deal and any move on a second referendum.

Mike Smithson


With a possible LAB leadership in prospect Laura Pidcock could be the one to get Jezza’s backing

Monday, September 23rd, 2019

Her odds make her an interesting bet

Of all the political betting markets available one that we haven’t looked at for a very long time is on who will succeed Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. He has looked totally secure in his position even though he has recently seen his personal poll ratings dropped to record lows.

Corbyn, now 70, doesn’t appear to be enjoying the job that he has occupied since his shock victory in the September 2015 Labour leadership contest.

One thing that we keep on hearing from the party is a view that the next leader should be a woman. LAB is alone amongst the major parties with MPs at Westminster never to have had a female person at the top. If that’s the case then who could that be?

Emily Thornberry has been a major figure in the party for many years and looks set to be a possible contender. Then there is Rebecca Long Bailey who for a time looked as though she was the favourite of the incumbent Mr Corbyn. Now there are suggestions that the person who would get the backing, however informally, of the incumbent would be be the 32 year old MP from North West Durham, Laura Pidcock.

Rachel Wearmouth in Huffpost had a piece outlining Pidcock’s credentials at the weekend and that’s caused me to have a flutter at 16/1 with Ladbrokes on her getting the job. She wrote:

“this summer has revealed the extent to which Laura Pidcock is favoured by powerful left-wing unions such as Len McCluskey’s Unite, and by Corbyn himself.

Despite being elected for the first time in 2017, the campaigning MP has rapidly risen through the ranks to shadow minister and was earlier this month quietly promoted to shadow secretary of state for workers’ rights.

Pidcock now attends meetings of Corbyn’s top team where she has been described by some as “Jeremy’s de-facto deputy” as Watson’s appearances thin out. ..

A brief look on YouTube suggests that she’s a much more engaging speaker than Long-Bailey.

Mike Smithson


Corbyn’s protégée, Rebecca Long-Bailey, now betting favourite to be his successor

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

Will there be a change before the next general election?

The furious efforts by the LAB media team to undermine the reports last week that there might be issues with Corbyn’s health suggest that they could be something in it. They protesteth too much .

Whatever the issue of who succeeds Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader and of course leader of the opposition is one that we haven’t looked at for sometime.  Going back over the Betfair market trends in the long term favourite,  Emily Thornberry, seems to be getting less support from punters and we now have Rebecca  Long-Bailey edging into the lead in the betting.  When Corbyn did not attend PMQs last month it was Long-Bailey and not Thornberry who deputised for the leader. Perhaps the latter is falling out of favour for opposing Corbyn/Milne/Murphy on their Brexit approach.

At some stage it will have to be decided whether the party wants Corbyn to lead it into the next general election. My sense is that it doesn’t and if so then the question of the successor becomes relevant.

The assumption is that whoever Corbyn backs will be supported by the party membership. We don’t know whether this is the case or not until it is in fact tested.

Another story that’s  been strongly attacked by LAB’s  media managers in the past few days has been a suggestion in the Observer that its membership has dropped by 100,000. Look at the response here and the precise phrasing.

The thing to notice is that LAB is no longer claiming to be the biggest party in Europe in terms of membership. The wording in the Twitter response suggests that there has been movement. Also, and I know this from my PR days, asserting that a figure is completely untrue could mean that the actual drop is larger.

Mike Smithson


The looming fork in the road and the path many MPs will have to make

Sunday, June 30th, 2019

You need to watch politics in split-screen at the moment. In both Labour and the Conservatives, a group of politicians has come to a fork in the road. In both cases, there is no shortage of fellow party supporters telling them to fork off.

Conservative Remainers have had a desperate few years. The referendum result was not the start of it. Well before they lost the referendum, they had lost their party. They have spent the last three years seeking to mitigate the worst effects of Brexit and hunkering down until the delirium has abated.

The delirium is not abating: the fever is getting worse. MPs are being threatened with deselection for opposing Brexit despite having voted for the withdrawal agreement three times. During the early stages of the leadership election campaign, there were dark whispers that Michael Gove was the preferred Remain candidate. That’s Michael Gove, leader of Vote Leave.

Both of the leadership candidates to be presented to the membership have committed to a no deal Brexit if necessary and neither has come up with a remotely plausible plan for avoiding that. When Ruth Davidson optimistically praised Jeremy Hunt for putting the Union first, Julia Hartley-Brewer, one of the high priestesses of the Brexit cult, pronounced that: “Any Tory leadership candidate who puts the Union first has absolutely no intention of delivering Brexit”.

Boris Johnson, the runaway favourite, has committed to leaving the EU deal or no deal on 31 October 2019. It does not seem possible either to enter into negotiations with the EU or to pass the relevant legislation by that date, and the warnings about what it might mean in practice continue to pile up. He is not ruling out either ignoring Parliament or proroguing it: democracy itself might be sacrificed to no deal Brexit.

Any Conservative who regards no deal Brexit as disastrous has to accept that he or she is now fighting against mainstream party thinking on what all sides regard as the central question of the age. The party is about to elect a leader and give whoever wins a mandate to force through Brexit by hook or by crook.

There is going to be no place in the Conservative party for MPs who oppose that mandate. Such Conservatives need to decide whether they are going to take arms against a sea of troubles and if so how. Or they can decide to go quietly and acquiesce with a policy that they consider disastrous. A decision to wait and see is a decision to go quietly.

That dilemma is paralleled within the Labour party. The readmission of Chris Williamson to the party so that he can stand for re-election as a Labour MP, against the recommendation on his case at a time when the Labour party is being investigated in relation to anti-Semitism by the EHRC, gives the lie to the idea that the current leadership has the slightest intention of reining in its outriders. Jeremy Corbyn and his coterie have played grandmother’s footsteps with the rest of the party on the subject, creeping back to their own ways the moment they think that backs are turned.  

To be fair, they are right to be confident. Large numbers of MPs who have condemned anti-Semitism in the party campaigned for the Labour candidate in Peterborough who during the campaign had to apologise for her past actions. As with Republican senators after school shootings, it seems that thoughts and prayers are the preferred policy prescription to avoid repeats.

Any Labour MP who is serious about opposing anti-Semitism in the varieties found on the hard left has to accept that the Labour party under its current leadership will not reform on this subject. Either in essence they accept that getting Labour elected is more important than eliminating this anti-Semitism or they leave Labour. Expressions of outrage on Twitter without further actions are simply a decision that Labour getting elected is the most important thing.  Kvetching is just a smokescreen.

Politics is about priorities and both of these groups need to think what their priorities are. Conservative MPs who think a no deal Brexit is going to be bad, maybe even terrible, for the country, might nevertheless conclude that a Conservative government even under someone as unsuitable as Boris Johnson is better than the alternative. But if they do, they have to accept the compromise that they have made, to accept that they have willed what they see as a looming disaster. If they believe that no deal Brexit must be stopped, they must act now. Later is too late.

Labour MPs appalled by the anti-Semitism permeating through the party might similarly conclude that for all its flaws a Labour party committed to redistribution and improving the lot of the poorest in society is better than the alternative. But if they do, they have to accept that they have by necessary implication downgraded the need to oppose racism. If they believe that is a compromise too far, they must act now. There is nothing to wait for.

In both cases, meaningful action is going to require a break with their party. In both cases, this would mean breaking lifelong allegiances with the high probability of ending their political careers sooner rather than later. All of them will look at the unhappy year the TIGgers will have and shudder. But they have to ask themselves, really ask themselves, what they are in politics for. Better to fail with integrity than to fail without even trying to succeed. On that basis, the TIGgers have so far all done better than those who did not follow their lead.

In life, all of us from time to time are faced with times when there is an easy choice and a difficult choice. In the longer term, the difficult choice is almost always the right one. Time for quite a lot of MPs to start making some difficult choices.

Alastair Meeks


It’s time we moved back to MPs choosing the party leader instead not members

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Having a leader who is not the choice of MPs will inevitably lead to problems

Consider where British politics is quite likely to be in a few months time – LAB still being led by Corbyn who is opposed by most of his MPs and Johnson being the CON leader in spite of his relative lack of parliamentary support

Both would be in their jobs because of their appeal to party members and neither command the support of their parliamentary parties. Given the main role of a leader is to head the party in the Commons then it should be those who work alongside MPs that should have the final say.

One of the difficulties that Ed Miliband had during his five years at the top was that he wasn’t the choice of his fellow MPs. In the ballot in 2010 he was nearly 9% short of his brother David amongst the parliamentary party.

Corbyn’s position is much worse because as we saw in 2016 a vote of confidence in him amongst the parliamentary Labour Party he secured just 20% of the vote.

Going back within the Tory Party would Iain Duncan Smith have been elected leader in 2001 if it had been left to his parliamentary colleagues. I suggest not. What happened during a critical time in British history, the Iraq war, the party and the country as a whole would have been better served by the Conservatives if the leader had been more able to hold the government properly to account.

The big difference between the Conservatives and labour is that there is a simple process within the former for an elected leader by the membership to be ousted. That’s what happened to IDs in October 2003.

This fad of letting the membership decide is a very modern. Labour introduced it in the early 1990s with John Smith being the first leader to be elected partly by members. The first Tory leadership contest to involve the membership was in 2001.

There was a thread on Twitter a few weeks back which I’ve been pondering about ever that suggested that one of the big problems in British politics is that the main parties select their leaders by leaving the final decision to the memberships.

This diminishes the role of the individual MP. Sure party members should be able to choose their candidates in their constituencies for general elections but that suggests that being involved in the final choice of a main party leader is not a good.

Why should  members, most of whom just pay their subs, be the ones to choose?


Mike Smithson


Tom Watson plans a new LAB MPs grouping and there’s little Milne/McCluskey/Corbyn can do about it

Monday, February 25th, 2019

He’s LAB’s deputy with his own separate mandate

It is very hard to think of any other organisation where a deputy can operate in the manner that Tom Watson is doing at the moment. His response to the defection of nine MPs has been very much to sympathize recognising the culture within the party that led to their decisions. He’s also forwarded to the leadership 50 cases of anti-semitism which he wants investigating.

You wonder what Seamus Milne, Len McCluskey, and Jeremy Corbyn think about this which looks like a direct challenge to the man who was elected leader in 2015 and was reelected a year later each time with a second substantial majority.

Tom Watson was elected deputy at the same time as Corbyn in 2015 and is effectively unsackable by the leader. My reading is that the only way of getting rid of him is to put forward a challenge to his position and there would be another deputy leadership election. That would then be voted on by the membership.

Watson wants his new group to give a platform to those MPs whose views are not currently represented within Corbyn’s shadow cabinet and effectively to give them a voice and help them shape policy.

As TSE pointed out yesterday it was Tom Watson in 2006 who initiated what looked like being a series of minsterial resignations which led to Tony Blair announcing that he would step down the following year. He’s somebody who understands the party and it’s machinations and clearly has a lot of support.

He’s not someone you don’t want as your enemy and he sees his role as protecting Labour.

The biggest issue that will be focused on in the coming days and weeks, no doubt, will be the way that Corbyn and his team have been deflecting the growing calls within the party to back a second referendum on Brexit. The danger for Corbyn is that if a No Deal brexit does take place then he will be seen as jointly responsible with the Tories. This will be Corbyn’s Nick Clegg tuition fees moment writ large – not to be forgotten.

Mike Smithson


It appears Blair slayer Tom Watson has his sights on Jeremy Corbyn

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

Tom Watson’s appearance on the Andrew Marr show was very interesting as per the tweets above.

That Labour’s deputy leader has publicly brought the antisemitism issue to Corbyn with the fifty cases makes life very difficult for Corbyn. With a third of voters thinking Corbyn is an antisemite this presents an opportunity for Corbyn to turn around that perception but given past form Corbyn will only make it worse.

Corbynites should be concerned about Watson is doing this, and so publicly, anyone with an understanding of history knows Watson played a crucial role in the early departure of the great Satan Tony Blair. If Watson can help topple the three times general election winning leader he’ll be able to take down the general election loser that is Corbyn.

If the Corbynite fan club is castrated on social media then it will be harder for Corbyn to survive a putsch which makes me think this is part of a very clever plan by Tom Watson.


PS – Meanwhile Mrs May is determined to ensure more Tory defections to the TIGgers as even loyalists who backed the deal are getting exasperated 


Corbyn harking back to LAB’s GE2017 vote share is no solution to the party’s current challenges

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

For many he is seen as the problem

Little noticed in this week’s political turmoil was some new polling from YouGov that had Corbyn dropping to a new low in its well/badly ratings. The trend was in line with all the other leader ratings that we’ve seen the last few weeks that whatever the pollster and whatever the question format Corbyn’s position is on the decline.

The historical record shows that for an opposition party to re-take power the leader has to have a clear ratings margin over the incumbent PM.

The 54% negative number from YouGov was not as bad as the 72% who told Ipsos MORI that they were dissatisfied but it is still the worst it has been with this particular question in this polling series

This coincided with the 8 MPs announcing their departure with their reasons all pointing to the leadership of Corbyn particularly on Brexit and his failure to address the ongoing anti-semitism within the party.

Looking back since the 2017 General Election the factors that seemed to have triggered a decline in Corbyn’s personal position have related to anti-semitism and his ambivalence on Brexit. It was the events in March last year that lead to MPs demonstrating against him outside Parliament that ended his comparative ratings honeymoon.

That Corbyn’s position is secure because of the membership base should give lots of hope to those opposed to LAB.

Labour’s fundamental problem is that it has a leader who is not popular even amongst many of those who voted for the party in 2017 but is almost totally secure in his position.

Mike Smithson