Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
5 July 2016updated 28 Jul 2021 9:38am

Opponents of Jeremy Corbyn should name their challenger – the Labour leader’s ready for battle

Stop sniping on Twitter and put up a candidate. 

By liam Young

The reports of Jeremy Corbyn’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Yesterday Labour’s embattled leader released a video confirming that he was safe and well despite constant attacks from his parliamentary Labour party. In the video the Labour leader confirmed what many of us – despite what some “Labour sources” have been saying – already knew: he’s going nowhere. Elements of the media have reported that Jeremy Corbyn has been on the brink of resigning a few times over the last week, but my own understanding from within team Corbyn is that the Labour leader is prepared for battle.

The thing that has been missed in much of the reporting over the last few days has been the fact that the threat Corbyn faces at this moment in time is nothing new. The majority of the PLP has never had faith in Jeremy Corbyn. Attacks and plots have been the norm for the Labour leader ever since he was swept to power last September with an overwhelming mandate. For some reason people are dumbfounded by the fact that he is hanging on.

Jeremy Corbyn continues to hold the confidence of the Labour party on the whole, and has the passionate backing of a tiny number of his parliamentary colleagues. The truth is that nothing has changed between the 12th September 2015 and today.

Reports of a coup have been circulating since just weeks after Corbyn’s emphatic victory. We have been told of secret meetings of Corbyn’s most ardent opponents within the Labour party and backroom plots since the man was elected. So it is no wonder that Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters are prepared for what now seems inevitable. The future of the Labour party looks set to rest on the outcome of a new leadership election. It is unprecedented that just nine months after receiving such an emphatic democratic mandate a leader must seek another one. But it seems that this route is now the only way of settling the Labour question.

So I urge opponents of Jeremy Corbyn to put up their candidate. Let both sides stop sniping on Twitter, talking about unrepresentative constituency Labour party results and sharing polls. Let’s bring an end to all of that and hold the one vote that counts. Above being left wing or centre-left, all members of the Labour party should be proud to stand as democrats. So let’s embrace democracy. Let us have another huge democratic exercise as our party membership continues to balloon. Whether it be Angela Eagle, Owen Smith or whoever else the PLP stands, let’s decide the future of our party by the ballot.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. A weekly round-up of The New Statesman's climate, environment and sustainability content. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

But when we do, the result must be respected. If Jeremy Corbyn wins a second mandate, Labour MPs opposed to his leadership will have a difficult decision to make. As Diane Abbott has said recently, the PLP is not at war with Jeremy Corbyn, it is at war with the membership. My hope is that when the result of the leadership election is known, MPs will reconsider their position in regards to their relationship with local members. The Labour party is a democratic socialist party. We should respect democracy above all else.