Darling's banker bashing

Former chancellor attacks the bankers as "arrogant and stupid" in new extracts from his memoir.

More extracts from Alistair Darling's memoir, due out next Wednesday, have leaked onto Labour Uncut, and today we get his view of Fred Goodwin and co. "My worry," writes Darling, "was that they (the bankers) were so arrogant and stupid that they might bring us all down".

The former chancellor reportedly lambasts Goodwin's response to the crisis as that of someone "off to play a game of golf", concluding that the former RBS boss "deserved to be a pariah". Elsewhere, Darling describes Andy Hornby, the former chief executive of HBOS, as "looking like he was about to explode" when confronted with the full scale of what had happened on his watch. According to Labour Uncut's Atul Hatwal, the former chancellor will also attack a lack of gratitude for the bailout that was "as shocking as it was stupid".

What makes Darling's intervention politically notable is that it comes so soon before the publication of the Vickers report on banking. As the Lib Dems fight for the introduction of a strict ring-fence between banks' retail and investment arms, Darling's attack on the avarice of the City won't do their cause any harm.

George Eaton is political 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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