Columnist of the week

Queenie, we love you

Her name is amazing. Her byline picture is extraordinary. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce...

Queenie Dhody! of the Mumbai Mirror.

The former Miss India has such range! Leaping from the 'personal loss' she felt when Michael Jackson died (she admits she never met him) to shopping tips in London (Topshop) she even spares a thought for the economically challenged. On a trip to Qatar:

The shops coming up are the highest end of luxury, be it a Ferrari or an Hermes showroom, and the villas by the sea are already sold out. It was great to see all this at a time, when the whole world is abandoning construction and laying off employees.

Now this is what we need from our columnists - a bit of hope amidst these dark days. I, personally, feel I will rest a little easier tonight knowing that Ferrari and Hermes are expanding. What comfort! If any politician needs some evidence of green shoots, this surely is it. I look forward to pictures of President Obama and Prime Minister Brown snipping red ribbons in front of Gucci boutiques and Lamborghini showrooms to show to the world that our economies are blossoming, the bankers are re-bonused, the hedge funds are flourishing, and 0.00001% of society is once again able to purchase an unlimited amount of luxury goods. Queenie, thank you for showing us the way.

 

 

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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Will Jeremy Corbyn stand down if Labour loses the general election?

Defeat at the polls might not be the end of Corbyn’s leadership.

The latest polls suggest that Labour is headed for heavy defeat in the June general election. Usually a general election loss would be the trigger for a leader to quit: Michael Foot, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband all stood down after their first defeat, although Neil Kinnock saw out two losses before resigning in 1992.

It’s possible, if unlikely, that Corbyn could become prime minister. If that prospect doesn’t materialise, however, the question is: will Corbyn follow the majority of his predecessors and resign, or will he hang on in office?

Will Corbyn stand down? The rules

There is no formal process for the parliamentary Labour party to oust its leader, as it discovered in the 2016 leadership challenge. Even after a majority of his MPs had voted no confidence in him, Corbyn stayed on, ultimately winning his second leadership contest after it was decided that the current leader should be automatically included on the ballot.

This year’s conference will vote on to reform the leadership selection process that would make it easier for a left-wing candidate to get on the ballot (nicknamed the “McDonnell amendment” by centrists): Corbyn could be waiting for this motion to pass before he resigns.

Will Corbyn stand down? The membership

Corbyn’s support in the membership is still strong. Without an equally compelling candidate to put before the party, Corbyn’s opponents in the PLP are unlikely to initiate another leadership battle they’re likely to lose.

That said, a general election loss could change that. Polling from March suggests that half of Labour members wanted Corbyn to stand down either immediately or before the general election.

Will Corbyn stand down? The rumours

Sources close to Corbyn have said that he might not stand down, even if he leads Labour to a crushing defeat this June. They mention Kinnock’s survival after the 1987 general election as a precedent (although at the 1987 election, Labour did gain seats).

Will Corbyn stand down? The verdict

Given his struggles to manage his own MPs and the example of other leaders, it would be remarkable if Corbyn did not stand down should Labour lose the general election. However, staying on after a vote of no-confidence in 2016 was also remarkable, and the mooted changes to the leadership election process give him a reason to hold on until September in order to secure a left-wing succession.

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