The Lefties it's OK to love

In this week's NS, the left told us which Tories they love. But is that love reciprocated?

The NS has a cover story: Which Tories is it OK to love? I love my other half, and he's a Tory, but I don't think that's the point of the article. And despite all those pop songs that urge "you gotta love you-self, bay-bee", I don't count either. I shall read the views of the Left-of-centre Great And Good with interest.

Anyway as an act of symmetry, because I love symmetry, I thought I'd return the favour. Which people of the Left do Tories love?

I lack the magazine's institutional reach, so my own "research" didn't involve ringing round the Establishment. Thank God for Twitter, eh! Below are the responses from random twittering Tories, along with my own choices, which are the top three.

George Orwell. Obvious really, but it's not only his prescient warning about totalitarianism that make me a fan. I go back to his essay on politics and the English language -once a month at least, and shudder anew each time I read his instructions about clarity, because despite my best efforts I continue to break them. An essential read for anyone who wants to communicate well, or to deconstruct the communications of those who prefer obfuscation (I've just broken one of his rules). Besides, which Tory doesn't vibrate with recognition at this:

Our civilization is decadent and our language -- so the argument runs -- must inevitably share in the general collapse.

When I read that, I'm like that scene in When Harry Met Sally. Yes that one. Yes that's a metaphor. Almost.

Frank Field. Also obvious, I know, but equally deserved. From his fight against Militant in the 80s (in a profile of him in the Independent in 1993, he said his nightmare is "sitting in a smoke-filled room confronted by rows of staring eyes and faces contorted by hatred") to his common-sense advocacy of welfare reform, Field is one of those politicians whose reach extends beyond his actual words: he gives permission for debates to occur, which the elite would often prefer to leave undiscussed. In this sense, he's a gatekeeper: if Frank Field thinks it's acceptable to discuss the human implications of social security policy, then it's OK for the rest of us to air our views too.

Tom Harris. Like Field, Harris refuses to parrot the banalities of the age, which are nearly all to do with a horror of expressing judgement about lifestyles. For this sin, his party has previously overlooked one of its most skilled communicators: if there were any sense in the political ordering, Harris would already be leader of the Scottish Labour party, and not only a candidate for that position. (I only hope that having a Tory declare his political love doesn't do him any harm.) Sometimes it's useful to ask yourself a question: which political opponent would I least like to stand against in an election? Harris is at the top of my list, because he's honest, good-humoured, and kind. One of the good guys.

Here are some responses from Tory Twitterers, one or two of which might surprise you (they did me):

@torypride nominated John Cryer and Gisela Stuart, for their work on the European Referendum Campaign. @botzarelli suggested Dennis Skinner: "disagree with almost everything but he's uncompromising and takes role of MP seriously". I agree. Skinner deserves recognition for his unwavering commitment to the centrality of class as a predictor of outcome, a legitimate hypothesis to which we Conservatives have never quite been able to provide a proper response (there is occasionally a downside to resisting ideology). This thought reminds me of the admiration I have for Nick Cohen, who writes often about class, the forgotten discriminant, as well as tackling head-on both the horrors of clerical fascism and the hypocrisy of those who defend it.

@blondpidge suggested Tony Benn, "because he's a man of great principle". I'm aware of this widespread feeling about Mr Benn. Since we're writing about love, I'll admit only that I share neither the fascination nor the adulation. I prefer him to Caroline Lucas, is about as strong as I'd put it.

Since it's good to learn something new every day, I was pleased to read about Sir Roger Douglas, nominated by @Stuart_Barrow, who also reminded me of how much we owe Chris Smith. As Stuart puts it, we owe Lord Smith a lot for taking a stand and coming out "decades before some on our side grew a spine".

Finally, and I wonder if this will please him, big Twitter Tory-love goes out to John Prescott, from @jwgsharp, who writes that despite disagreeing with the politics, Prescott's "background, strong beliefs", and the fact that he "sent his kids to the school allocated to them. No banging on about Comps and sending to selective or private school", all impress him.

Reading the list again, there's something obvious to see, I think. Regardless of our affiliation, we have attraction to people who articulate the truth as they see it, as clearly as they can, and who hold fast to their principles regardless of the vagaries of political fashion, or how unpopular this leaves them in the meantime.

They are also largely politicians who don't learn how to speak in an inhuman manner, because they're so sure of their principles that they're immune to the fear of "gaffes" (stupid, stupid word) that afflict the less-certain or more career-minded.

Tony Blair, by the way, wasn't suggested by anyone.

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Labour MPs pass a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn – what happens now?

172 no confidence votes to 40 in support of the Labour leader.

Labour MPs have voted that they have no confidence in their leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Following a secret no confidence ballot, 172 MPs voted that they had no confidence in the Labour leader, to 40 who voted in support. There were 216 votes in total, out of 229 Labour MPs. There were 13 who abstained, and four spoilt ballots. That's a turnout of 95 per cent, with 80 per cent declaring no confidence in their leader.

The motion for a no confidence ballot was tabled by Margaret Hodge MP last week, following the British public voting for Brexit in the EU referendum. Corbyn's detractors accuse him of letting Labour down for failing to campaign successfully for a Remain vote.

The Labour press office comments:

"Following the ballot conducted today, the Parliamentary Labour Party has accepted the following motion:
 
"That this PLP has no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party."

The outcome of the ballot comes after a wave of resignations from Corbyn's shadow cabinet, which have been arriving thick and fast since the weekend following the referendum result. It is thought that Corbyn now has yet to fill at least half of the positions in his shadow frontbench. If you're wondering who has resigned, check out our liveblog. And for who's been newly appointed to the shadow cabinet, our list is here.

Corbyn has responded to the outcome, informing his party that he will not stand down:

“In the aftermath of last week’s referendum, our country faces major challenges. Risks to the economy and living standards are growing. The public is divided.

“The Government is in disarray. Ministers have made it clear they have no exit plan, but are determined to make working people pay with a new round of cuts and tax rises.

“Labour has the responsibility to give a lead where the Government will not. We need to bring people together, hold the Government to account, oppose austerity and set out a path to exit that will protect jobs and incomes.

“To do that we need to stand together. Since I was elected leader of our party nine months ago, we have repeatedly defeated the Government over its attacks on living standards.

“Last month, Labour become the largest party in the local elections. In Thursday’s referendum, a narrow majority voted to leave, but two thirds of Labour supporters backed our call for a remain vote.

“I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60 per cent of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning. Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy.

“We are a democratic party, with a clear constitution. Our people need Labour party members, trade unionists and MPs to unite behind my leadership at a critical time for our country.”

So what happens now? If any MP wishes to challenge him, they can trigger a leadership contest. To do this, they will have to receive 50 nominations (the support of 20 per cent of Labour MPs and MEPs). Once they formally have this support, they have to write to the party's general secretary, Iain McNicol, announcing their intention to run. My colleague George has the latest on who is likely to challenge Corbyn.

The party rules on whether the incumbent automatically has a place on the leadership ballot are murky. Some believe he doesn't need to amass nominations all over again to stand. Others, particularly his opponents, point to legal advice sought by the party last year that suggests he would have to gain 50 nominations, like his challengers. They are clinging on to this interpretation, because they fear that Corbyn would simply be voted in again by the party's membership, which is significantly more left wing than the parliamentary party.

But even if Corbyn does have to collect this level of support, there's no guarantee that his unpopularity in the PLP would mean he would be unable to make the ballot. He received 36 nominations last time, so his support among MPs is actually up by four, according to the result of the no confidence ballot. Considering his difficulty gaining enough nominations last June (he received his final nomination minutes before the deadline), it is unlikely. But not impossible.

Yet there is equally no certainty that he would win among the membership, which returned him by a landslide last September. Lots of the new members and signed-up supporters are devastated about Brexit, and have been baffled by Corbyn's reticence about campaigning for Remain. (Of course, a cursory glance at his voting record by any of his fans would have proved that he really is the stubborn man of principle they so praise him for being: he has been a steadfast eurosceptic for decades). It's unlikely they wouldn't back him, considering how strongly they voted for him so recently. But, again, not impossible.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.