Morning Call: pick of the comment

The ten must-read pieces from this morning's papers

1. Where is the vitality and vision to win? (Guardian)

James Purnell sets out an alternative programme for Labour including 1 per cent of the bailout going to recapitalise local areas, a living wage and a cap on interest rates. He insists that Labour can win with a manifesto that offers "hope and radicalism", but warns that the party's vision and values are on "life support".

2. The Robinson scandal is just the beginning (Times)

Paul Bew says that the Robinson scandal is likely to derail the devolution of policing and justice powers to Northern Ireland. He warns that Sinn Fein may retaliate by bringing about a crisis of the power-sharing institutions that could prove fatal to the peace process.

3. What Obama must learn from the bomb plot (Financial Times)

Clive Crook says that Barack Obama's response to the jet bomb plot may have been mostly "pragmatic and defensible", but it looked "improvised and hesitant". The president should now demand that Congress pass an anti-terror law allowing pre-charge detention.

4. Labour beware . . . Brown's men will now be bent on revenge (Independent)

Paul Richards warns that Gordon Brown's allies, "skilled in bare-knuckle Labour politics", are likely to attempt to destroy the reputations and characters of his Labour opponents.

5. Who would want to replace Brown now? (Times)

William Rees-Mogg says that one of the main reasons Brown has survived is that any new leader could expect to serve for four months before losing the election. He predicts that Harriet Harman, who appeals to trade unionists, women and backbenchers, will lead Labour after its defeat.

6. Susan Greenfield should have been sacked (Daily Telegraph)

Melanie McDonagh argues that Greenfield deserved to be removed as head of the Royal Institution after presiding over a £22m redevelopment that left the society with debts of £3m.

7. Licentiousness breeds extremism (Independent)

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown warns that a decade of "economic greed and libertine excess" attracted youngsters to the self-discipline and certainties of Wahhabi Islam.

8. A job-rich US recovery is still plausible (Financial Times)

Robert Barbera and Charles Weise say that the US can expect jobs growth in the 300,000-per-month range this year and that the Obama administration should resist a new large-scale stimulus programme.

9. Military matters (Times)

A leader criticises the dysfunction at the top of the UK's armed forces and argues that if Britain is to succeed in Afghanistan then Sir Jock Stirrup, Chief of the Defence Staff, must go.

10. The roadworks scam that costs Londoners £1bn every year (Daily Telegraph)

Boris Johnson says that companies should receive a time-limited permit to dig up the roads and face tough fines if they overrun.

 

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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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