Angela Eagle is out of the race.
After warning repeatedly against “backroom fixes“, Angela Eagle now seems to have orchestrated one; with Owen Smith likely to offer her the role of Shadow Chancellor.
So how did Smith, a man who 48 hours ago told Eagle he would be be happy “to serve [her] with great humility and respect,” reverse the opinion of the PLP?
This screams of not only a “backroom fix” between the two candidates but a plethora of deals between Smith and the 90 delegates backing him.
Yet what’s worrying about this isn’t the number of delegates Smith received – but the speed at which he received them.
At around 1:30pm Angela Eagle had gratefully accepted Harriet Harman’s endorsement for Labour Leader. By 6pm, she had pulled out of the race and endorsed Smith; claiming he had the “values, vision & policies we need”.
In other words, it took Angela Eagle just over four hours to renege on her claim Labour needed “a woman leader” and that she would “make the best leader.”
So what happened?
Eagle wasn’t too far behind on nominations, with Channel 4’s Michael Crick reporting only twenty delegates separated the two candidates.
She retained the backing of senior MPs and, if she was to be believed, saw her candidacy as an almost moral imperative.
The truth is that, aside from being almost completely delusional, she was far out of her own depth. A prime candidate for being taken for a ride.
Smith has ridden Eagle’s coat-tails throughout this race, only to stab her in the back at the last minute.
Presenting himself as the “humble” and reverent politician, nothing about Smith’s actions backs this up.
Tories used to respect ruthlessness until Michael Gove knifed Boris after Brexit.
Owen Smith is our Michael Gove.
A former lobbyist for Pfizer who argued for private sector involvement in our NHS (and, indeed, the entire public sector), Smith lives and breaths PR.
On Trident, Smith defended his position backing its renewal, claiming he “wants to live in a world free of nuclear weapons,” but supports renewing the “deterrent.” Asked whether he would “press the button,” he said, “Yes,” then proceeded to criticise Corbyn for claiming he wouldn’t.
We now live in a world where it’s “reckless” to say you “wouldn’t” annihilate entire populations but perfectly OK to say you “would.”
However, Smith isn’t just pro-nuclear weapons, he is also pro-benefit cuts.
Abstaining on the welfare bill but now “regretting it,” Smith has only ever known one rule of politics: “Shirk it.”
Responsibility is not in his vocabularly.
Positioning himself as an anti-austerity candidate, Smith cannot take responsibility for his actions because he can’t back them up.
A refusal to own his past and admit his mistakes allows Smith to be all things.
He is anti-austerity, yet pro-private provision of services. He is anti-war, yet pro-Trident. He is “loyal”, yet betrayed both Corbyn and Eagle in a matter of weeks.
But out of all the problems Owen Smith presents; above all the policy difficulties and questionable past histories; there is one fact that matters: he stood in the election.
This alone should force Labour members and supporters to question his motives and, ultimately, to question whether he is the right person to lead the Labour Party.
In Corbyn, we don’t have these problems. We do not have questions. Corbyn’s whole political life is testament to his principles, his honesty, his integrity.
Jeremy has devoted his entire life to social justice, international peace and economic liberation for all.
His position is clear.
There is no evasive language, no bi-polar political posturing, no translucence of character.
This is why he was elected.
Call Corbyn”naive.” Call him “idealistic.” Call him “unfit to lead” (for whatever reason). But don’t call him a “loser.”
4 mayoral elections, 22 government u-turns, increased Parliamentary majorities, 300,000 new members and successful council elections is not the record of a “loser.”
Jeremy’s 59.5% first-preference vote landslide, not even one year ago, whilst on-course to win this year’s election with an even bigger margin – is not the record of a “loser.”
A “loser” is an ex-Pfizer-lobbying, political-posturing, Trident-renewing, PR expert; bulldozing his way to the top without a second thought for the membership, support-base or incumbent leadership.
Jeremy Corbyn is arguably the most successful Labour Party leader in modern political history.
The speed at which the Party has grown, the size to which it has grown and the appeal to all sections of the electorate; young, old, black, white, rich, poor, male, female, retired, working, gay, straight; is unprecedented.
With a Parliamentary support-base mirroring the support of the membership; Labour is a force that cannot be reckoned with.
Jeremy will not come along twice. We will not have this opportunity again.
Don’t take it away from him. Don’t take it away from the Party. And, most of all, don’t take it away from the millions of people depending on a strong Labour government.
Support Corbyn. And let’s win together.