Crossing the threshold….
5 days to go and currently only 3 candidates have been nominated by enough MP’s to appear on the ballot paper with an entry of a fourth in Andy Burnham looking possible and the exclusion of both the left’s candidates; Diane Abbott and John McDonnell looking likely. Although there are 5 days have passed I would be surprised if either now gets on the ballot paper; one may have had a chance (assuming things would have panned out evenly, a left candidate would now be over half way to 33 on 17). What will ultimately deprive the left of a clear candidate is the split and no matter what grievances there are against the rules I feel the maths will ultimately support me on this.
So, what about those rules? Diane Abbott clearly doesn’t like them and feels they were put in place to obstruct the left; however, I am not as completely convinced as her that it is right to just blame them. As I have outlined above there are compelling reasons to feel disunity is possibly what will cost the left its candidate which is one good reason to not totally subscribe to the Abbott narrative. I am also not really convinced that 33 as a number has magical properties in and of itself that wards off leftism and I accept the point that the leader has to command sufficient support within the PLP to actually lead.
Where I am happy to concede ground to the Abbott argument is that it is wrong to nominate solely on the basis of the judgment of 33 (or more) members of the PLP. Our Party in its entirety should be involved at a much earlier stage and nomination should count for something (which may ensure the Party at least gets a balanced contest). Currently, the system makes nomination of candidates the sole prerogative of the PLP and this in my eyes is wrong. Our Party is a coalition but a composite of different parts from its Parliamentary to its trade union components and it is wrong for the PLP to have quite the suzerainty it does (MP’s votes should not be weighted) because the leader of the Labour Party leads more than the PLP; they lead a composite movement in many ways; the labour movement and they should have to win the confidence of sufficient numbers of all those parts.
If all the brave talk of transforming this Party is to mean anything then the PLP will have to surrender some of its power; Diane Abbott’s remarks are misdirected; the issue that needs addressing is a more fundamental one and it cannot be solved by merely lowering the bar.