The Sunday Telegraph are reporting that
Dawn Butler, a prominent Jeremy Corbyn ally, denied on Saturday she was preparing to challenge Sir Keir Starmer for the Labour leadership, amid claims of a hard-Left plot to replace the Labour leader after the Batley and Spen by-election.
Ms Butler, who was a frontbencher under Mr Corbyn, was seen in the West Yorkshire constituency with a camera crew last week, leading to speculation that she was putting together material for a leadership bid.
Labour sources believe the MP is banking on the party losing the seat on Thursday for the first time since 1997, before announcing a bid to replace Sir Keir the following day.
It is believed that Ms Butler would gain the support of the 34-strong Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, including Mr Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott.
In a statement issued to The Telegraph, Ms Butler said: “Like many MPs, I travelled up to Batley this week to support Kim Leadbeater and work for a Labour win.
“I never have been, and never will be, part of a coup against a Labour leader and have no interest in standing against Keir. Labour needs to improve – and that was clear from some of the doorstep conversations – but that is up to the current leadership to put right.”
If the Conservatives gain Batley and Spen from Labour, effectively knocking out another brick in Labour’s Red Wall, Sir Keir will face renewed calls to quit. Ms Butler’s statement did not rule out launching a leadership bid if Sir Keir stands down, triggering a formal contest.
Working on the principle of ‘never believe anything until it is officially denied’ then I’m assuming Dawn Butler, like Michael Portillo in 1995, is having phone lines installed whilst professing fealty to the leader.
At the time of writing Dawn Butler is 50/1 to succeed Sir Keir Starmer, I’m not tempted, not even as a trading bet. I think the Labour Party should have learned the lesson from 2016 of not putting up useless candidates like Owen Smith to challenge the leader and be crushed liked The Optimates at the Battle of Pharsalus.
Is the best candidate to topple or replace Starmer the woman who finished behind Richard Burgon in last year’s deputy leadership contest? I don’t wish to be overly critical of Dawn Butler’s abilities, actually I’m quite fond of her, after all how can anyone not love the woman whose assertion that 90% of giraffes are gay led to a row amongst Jeremy Corbyn’s office that she was being homophobic.
It says a lot about the long term future of the Labour Party if they want to try some more Corbynism given the disastrous result in 2019. If anyone wants to cite the 2017 general election result as evidence of Corbynism being popular well that election saw Labour finish with 55 fewer seats than the Conservatives, who by common had run their worst general election campaign in living memory as Mrs May became the house snatcher.