Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Will Osborne dare to be radical when he appoints the next Governor of the Bank of England? (Independent)

The sheer power of modern Governors makes the Chancellor's decision momentous - which is why senior Lib Dems are so determined to have a say in it, writes Steve Richards.

2. On Trident, Miliband needs to be brave and jump ship (Guardian)

With the Tories and Lib Dems at odds over our cold-war nuclear defences, Labour has to forge a political third way, says Polly Toynbee.

3. An insidious threat to the right to know (Daily Mail)

The arrest of a Greek magazine editor for exposing allegations of tax dodging should alarm every democrat, says a Daily Mail editorial.

4. A day of judgment over the EU budget (Daily Telegraph)

The vote on the EU budget gives MPs a chance to follow in the steps of Margaret Thatcher, says Daniel Hannan.

5. Another good idea let down by neglect (Financial Times)

Reform of the police service is falling victim to an all too familiar sloppiness, writes Janan Ganesh.

6. Pilgrims’ Progress (Times) (£)

The Anglican tradition is a rich civic resource; a new Archbishop must not pit the Church against modernity, says a Times leader.

7. Hillsborough shows why we need a permanent truth commission (Guardian)

There's an urgent need for independent oversight of incidents of malpractice – and the Hillsborough panel could provide a model, writes Michael Mansfield.

8. Lebanon can heal divisions to deter Syria (Financial Times)

Assad’s attempt to exploit his neighbour’s divisions might have a unifying effect, writes David Gardner.

9. Dither and delay have put our forests at risk (Daily Telegraph)

The government is finally acting decisively against ash dieback disease, notes a Daily Telegraph editorial. Why not sooner?

10. John Prescott’s political survival is a miracle (Independent)

Despite his affair, incompetent policies and amateur boxing, the career of this former merchant navy seaman sails on, writes Dominic Lawson.

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Labour's unstoppable force meets its immovable object

Team Corbyn are confident. But so are their opponents.

If you come at the king, you best not miss. And boy, have they come at him: over 40 resignations from the opposition frontbench and a motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership that both loyalists and rebels expect to pass easily.

What happens next? The ruling executive of Momentum, the organising force behind Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters in the party grassroots, met Corbyn in his office late last night. It would be overstating it to say that the mood was jubilant but Corbyn and his allies are confident of victory in the struggle for supremacy. “Game on,” texted one senior figure. “He won’t stand down,” another told me, “He feels he owes it to the membership to let them decide.”

Within Team Corbyn, they remain convinced that the shadow cabinet “are going to war without an army”, in the words of one insider. Others are already looking forward to the policy conference of Labour and Britain’s largest trade union, Unite, where there is a chance the union may adopt a policy of supporting mandatory reselection of Labour MPs.

Are they right? Having called and spoken to party members, it is certainly clear that Corbyn’s standing among the membership is not quite as high as it once was.

But members are unclear what they want next – several mentioned Keir Starmer, although my instinct that is largely because, as one member conceded, he is still very much a “blank slate” on which the hopes of the party’s electorate can be projected. What most want is someone who would retain much of the politics but with greater competence – the Vice News documentary seems to have done more damage than the referendum on the whole – and without the thirty years in politics for the right-wing press to pick over. The difficulty is that it is hard to see a politician in the parliamentary Labour party answering to that description or even close to it. While for the rebels, finding a winner is no longer the priority, surviving a snap election in October is, loyalists in the PLP and the grassroots are either unconvinced that the result will be heavy defeat, or unconvinced that any of the replacements would do better.

The difficulty for Corbyn’s critics is, rather like Labour under Ed Miliband, although they might be the repository for people’s irritation and uncertainty, there are few making a positive choice to vote for any of the available candidates. My instinct is, if Corbyn is on the ballot, the polls might show a tighter picture, he might have a tougher time on the campaign trail that he did last time, and he might have a closer fight as far as constituency nominations were concerned, but he would ultimately win, and win easily.

That’s before you get into Momentum’s ability to expand the electorate further.  Although appearing at last night’s rally was criticised by some journalists and cost Corbyn’s team at least one frontbencher, who, while keen to avoid prolonging the fighting, didn’t want to endorse the attacks on his colleagues in the parliamentary party, ultimately the petitions in support of Corbyn and the impromptu rally have given them more data to go out and recruit people to vote in the next leadership election, more than making up for any loss of support within the party-as-it-is.

But – and it’s a big “but” – I’m not convinced that Corbyn will make it to the ballot.

The party’s legal advice, from the party’s lawyers, GRM Law, is that Corbyn will have to secure 50 nominations to make the ballot, just as any challenger will. My feeling, with MPs of all parties convinced that there will be an election in October as soon as the new Conservative leader is in place, is that pressure from activists to nominate Corbyn will be less fruitful than it was in 2015. (That said, Labour MPs are skittish.) 

The Labour leadership themselves have obtained legal advice showing the reverse from Doughty Chambers. But whichever way the NEC rules, neither side will be able to take it to the courts. Most legal professionals estimate that Labour, like a trade union or a private members’ club, is exempt. “You accept the rules of the club when you join the club,” and that’s the end of it. My impression is that the judiciary would be reluctant to get involved.

The difficulty with predicting what happens next is it brings two of Labour’s iron laws into direct conflict: Labour never gets rid of its leader, and Tom Watson always wins. And I don’t think anyone is sure which of those laws is going to end up broken.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.