Election 2010: the Best and the Worst

Five high points and five low points from election night.

The best

1. That we don't have a majority (neo)Conservative government, and that the truly frightening prospect of the fanatical neocon warmonger Dr Liam Fox as defence secretary may still be avoided.

2. The likelihood that we'll get a move to a more democratic voting system, which will lead to the break-up of our traditional parties and reinvigorate our political system, as I argued here.

3. The re-election of the solidly anti-war John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn and some other genuinely leftist Labour MPs.

4. The conduct of Gordon Brown. As regular readers will know, I'm no fan of Brown's neoliberal policies, but I must admit to admiring the way he has conducted himself over the past 48 hours. His speech outside No 10 yesterday was very measured and politically very astute. (On the subject of Brown, here is a very interesting piece on the Blairite plot to replace him with David Miliband in the event of a Lab/Lib coalition.)

5. Er, that's it.

 

The worst

1. The defeat of George Galloway in Poplar. The neocon warmongers, who are itching either to attack Iran or to destroy the country by imposing swingeing new sanctions, will be gloating that their strongest critic in the UK won't be in the next parliament.

2. The way that the cult of celebrity has infected election-night television coverage. Did you want to hear the views of Bruce Forsyth, David Baddiel and the "property guru" Kirstie Allsopp on a hung parliament? No, me neither.

The BBC spent £30,000 of OUR money on a freebie junket for millionaire celebs and hangers-on, all of whom were perfectly capable of paying for their own wine and champagne. All at a time when we're told that the state must curb its spending drastically. It's beyond parody.

3. The contestant from The Apprentice -- I didn't catch her name -- who seemed to imply that public-sector workers should be disenfranchised because they don't vote the way she wants them to.

4. The way that working-class voices are nowadays almost totally excluded from election night, and indeed during the election campaign. Solidly upper-middle-class presenters, introduce solidly upper-middle-class analysts and then interview solidly upper-middle-class politicos. If you're working class you can sod off -- unless your name is Mrs Gillian Duffy, and you make comments about eastern Europeans "flocking" here and have a spat with Gordon Brown.

It hasn't always been like this. I recently rewatched the BBC's coverage of the 1979 election night, the last election before the neoliberal era. There were regular interviews with trade union leaders, and interviews with workers and ordinary people (including a cleaning lady), about how the result would affect them. Today all the talk is about how the markets will respond and what the City thinks of the result.

And what's the end result in this most upper-middle-class of elections? Two upper-middle-class public school/Oxbridge-educated politicians discuss how they're going to form the next government. Welcome to the classless Britain of 2010.

5. The election of the solidly middle-class Blairite carpetbagger Luciana Berger (a candidate who didn't even know who Bill Shankly was) in the solidly working-class seat of Liverpool Wavertree. If only Ricky Tomlinson had stood against her. Let's hope he does in October.

Anyway, that's my "best and worst". How about yours?

This post originally appeared on Neil Clark's blog

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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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