How trailing Abbott could still make the ballot paper

Some of 100 undeclared Labour MPs may yet nominate -- merely to create the perception of choice.

With only seven nominations, Dianne Abbott is trailing in last place among those who are seeking to get past the 33 MPs mark before nominations close on Wednesday (the day of the NS's evening debate between the candidates who make it into the contest).

Most write her off. Yet it is worth noting -- as Adam Boulton of Sky has done today -- that there are still 100 MPs yet to nominate. (And as well as today's hustings at the GMB, there is also one before MPs this evening.) It is also important to remember that when the contest itself is decided, a number of MPs will be voting for different candidates from the ones they nominated.

There are signs that there may yet be a surge in favour of Abbott once MPs have absorbed the social, ethnic and gender similarities behind the leading candidates.

Adam Boulton explains:

Currently David Miliband is on the grid with 62 backers, brother Ed has 49 and Ed Balls is on 33.

So far Burnham has just 21 nominations, McDonnell ten and Abbott seven.

But there over 100 unsecured Labour MPs out there who could ensure that all six candidates are runners.

Burnham told me on Sunday Live that he's confident of making it (David Miliband has hinted his surplus supporters could help out).

There is also an uneasy awareness in Labour ranks that the three nominated candidates so far are all white, middle-class, Oxbridge-educated, fortysomething men.

That could lead to a sudden surge of nominations for Abbott, especially since some on the centre and right of the party want a left-wing candidate so that he or she (McDonnell or Abbott) can be seen to be defeated.

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James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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What Jeremy Corbyn gets right about the single market

Technically, you can be outside the EU but inside the single market. Philosophically, you're still in the EU. 

I’ve been trying to work out what bothers me about the response to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr programme.

What bothers me about Corbyn’s interview is obvious: the use of the phrase “wholesale importation” to describe people coming from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom makes them sound like boxes of sugar rather than people. Adding to that, by suggesting that this “importation” had “destroy[ed] conditions”, rather than laying the blame on Britain’s under-enforced and under-regulated labour market, his words were more appropriate to a politician who believes that immigrants are objects to be scapegoated, not people to be served. (Though perhaps that is appropriate for the leader of the Labour Party if recent history is any guide.)

But I’m bothered, too, by the reaction to another part of his interview, in which the Labour leader said that Britain must leave the single market as it leaves the European Union. The response to this, which is technically correct, has been to attack Corbyn as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are members of the single market but not the European Union.

In my view, leaving the single market will make Britain poorer in the short and long term, will immediately render much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto moot and will, in the long run, be a far bigger victory for right-wing politics than any mere election. Corbyn’s view, that the benefits of freeing a British government from the rules of the single market will outweigh the costs, doesn’t seem very likely to me. So why do I feel so uneasy about the claim that you can be a member of the single market and not the European Union?

I think it’s because the difficult truth is that these countries are, de facto, in the European Union in any meaningful sense. By any estimation, the three pillars of Britain’s “Out” vote were, firstly, control over Britain’s borders, aka the end of the free movement of people, secondly, more money for the public realm aka £350m a week for the NHS, and thirdly control over Britain’s own laws. It’s hard to see how, if the United Kingdom continues to be subject to the free movement of people, continues to pay large sums towards the European Union, and continues to have its laws set elsewhere, we have “honoured the referendum result”.

None of which changes my view that leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom. But retaining Britain’s single market membership starts with making the argument for single market membership, not hiding behind rhetorical tricks about whether or not single market membership was on the ballot last June, when it quite clearly was. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.