In another boost for Labour’s floundering election campaign – I am being sarcastic here – the UNITE union has decided to suspend Gerard Coyne who is challenging Len McCluskey to be the next general secretary. The reason given is that Coyne has “brought the union in disrepute”. If that was really the case. McCluskey would have been expelled years ago, never mind suspended. The man who first gave us the wrong Miliband and then, disastrously, Jeremy Corbyn. Isn’t the real reason likely to be that Coyne has won?
We don’t know this of course but I foresee all manner of problems for Labour in general and Corbyn in particular if McCluskey has won or lost. If McCluskey has lost, it will be manna from heaven to the Tory Party and the right wing press because a key ally of Corbyn will have been defeated. If McCluskey has lost and then challenges the result – and wins that challenge – it will be manna from heaven to the Tory Party and the right wing press because it will look like a fix. If McCluskey wins, it will be manna from heaven to the Tory Party and the right wing press because it will represent the victory of Labour’s hard left king-maker. And whatever the result, whoever wins, it is likely to be on a turn out currently estimated to be around 12%.
I am in no doubt that Len McCluskey must carry a great deal of responsibility for current mess in the Labour Party. Much as I like Ed Miliband, I admit that I shared the view of the rest of the electorate that he did not look like a prime minister in waiting. But Len thought otherwise and fixed it for him to defeat his vastly superior brother, David Miliband. And as soon as Labour was smashed, Len fixed it for the nightmare candidate, Jeremy Corbyn, to become Labour leader. How Len must have laughed as he sat back in his armchair in the luxury flat UNITE members significantly helped to pay for.
Labour will be rubble after 8 June. The ludicrous Corbyn says the election result is not a “foregone conclusion” and for those of you who agree with him, picture this. The Tories are currently on 48% in the polls, double the Labour figure. This would give Theresa May a parliamentary majority of 186. Then, imagine a seven week general election Labour campaign fronted by the likes of Jeremy Corbyn and Dianne Abbott. Do you think the Tory lead is likely to narrow? If your answer is yes, I’ll have a pint of what you’re drinking.
If Labour is ever to recover – and this may take a decade or longer, if it ever happens at all – then the election of Coyne and more importantly the defeat of McCluskey will shift the balance of power in the Labour Party. And after Corbyn leads Labour to disaster, the centre left in the parliamentary party must seize the reins of power back from the hard left.
Theresa May, the lying vicar’s daughter, appears ever more unhinged as the election campaign goes on. She comes across as complacent, arrogant and nasty, not a good look for a prime minister. Touring as a Margaret Thatcher tribute act, afraid of debating even with such a poor performer as Corbyn, she shows her true colours. Out of her depth and increasingly, I’m afraid, out of her mind but on the way to Number 10 for at last the next five years, 10 if she wants it. The sheer ineptitude of Corbyn and McCluskey’s Labour doesn’t lay a glove on her, leaving the working class they so called represent to go to hell while the country burns.
If McCluskey goes, the mainstream left will need to ensure Corbyn and the comrades go too. The fightback can only begin then, if there are enough Labour MPs left to vote for a leader.