Cameron’s biggest test

David Cameron never had his “Clause Four” moment. He now has the chance of one, by forcing his party

David Cameron never did have his "Clause Four" moment during the four and a half years of his supposedly "modernising" leadership, which is one of the reasons why the Tories did not win the election. Now, at the very last minute, he has the opportunity for one.

It is clear that the Tory party is trying hard to stop Cameron offering electoral reform to the Liberal Democrats (just as the Lib Dems are doubtless trying hard to prevent Nick Clegg from abandoning it). Even that celebrated "Tory wet", Michael Heseltine has said:

I don't think for a minute that David Cameron will concede change to the voting system and I don't think that he needs to. His position is much stronger than I think the commentators give credit for.

Hmm. I actually suspect that the Tory-Liberal talks are much more perilous and tricky than many commentators, mainly on the right, are making out, as a sense of inevitably is spun to propel Cameron into No 10. The reason for my suspicion is the proportional representation question.

It would be dishonest of me to pretend not to think that a "progressive alliance" between Labour, the Lib Dems and others would be better for Britain than a Tory-Liberal one. But if the Lib Dems really are going to hook up with the Tories -- and I believe it is still an "if" -- then Cameron will finally have had his Clause Four moment by forcing his party to adapt to a new reality, of which he seems keenly aware.

Two caveats, however. First, if the Tories campaign against electoral reform, having delivered a referendum, that would not only undermine the whole concept, but also show the Lib Dems to have sold themselves hopelessly short. Second, Cameron has shown impressive adaptability in the past few days, but all the signs from the past suggest that he will be unable to take on the right of the parliamentary party he meets this evening.

The question Cameron will be putting to his party is: does it want power, or purity? Time will tell.

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James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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This is no time for a coup against a successful Labour leader

Don't blame Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour Party's crisis.

"The people who are sovereign in our party are the members," said John McDonnell this morning. As the coup against Jeremy Corbyn gains pace, the Shadow Chancellor has been talking a lot of sense. "It is time for people to come together to work in the interest of the country," he told Peston on Sunday, while emphasising that people will quickly lose trust in politics altogether if this internal squabbling continues. 

The Tory party is in complete disarray. Just days ago, the first Tory leader in 23 years to win a majority for his party was forced to resign from Government after just over a year in charge. We have some form of caretaker Government. Those who led the Brexit campaign now have no idea what to do. 

It is disappointing that a handful of Labour parliamentarians have decided to join in with the disintegration of British politics.

The Labour Party had the opportunity to keep its head while all about it lost theirs. It could have positioned itself as a credible alternative to a broken Government and a Tory party in chaos. Instead we have been left with a pathetic attempt to overturn the democratic will of the membership. 

But this has been coming for some time. In my opinion it has very little to do with the ramifications of the referendum result. Jeremy Corbyn was asked to do two things throughout the campaign: first, get Labour voters to side with Remain, and second, get young people to do the same.

Nearly seven in ten Labour supporters backed Remain. Young voters supported Remain by a 4:1 margin. This is about much more than an allegedly half-hearted referendum performance.

The Parliamentary Labour Party has failed to come to terms with Jeremy Corbyn’s emphatic victory. In September of last year he was elected with 59.5 per cent of the vote, some 170,000 ahead of his closest rival. It is a fact worth repeating. If another Labour leadership election were to be called I would expect Jeremy Corbyn to win by a similar margin.

In the recent local elections Jeremy managed to increase Labour’s share of the national vote on the 2015 general election. They said he would lose every by-election. He has won them emphatically. Time and time again Jeremy has exceeded expectation while also having to deal with an embittered wing within his own party.

This is no time for a leadership coup. I am dumbfounded by the attempt to remove Jeremy. The only thing that will come out of this attempted coup is another leadership election that Jeremy will win. Those opposed to him will then find themselves back at square one. Such moves only hurt Labour’s electoral chances. Labour could be offering an ambitious plan to the country concerning our current relationship with Europe, if opponents of Jeremy Corbyn hadn't decided to drop a nuke on the party.

This is a crisis Jeremy should take no responsibility for. The "bitterites" will try and they will fail. Corbyn may face a crisis of confidence. But it's the handful of rebel Labour MPs that have forced the party into a crisis of existence.

Liam Young is a commentator for the IndependentNew Statesman, Mirror and others.