May should quit. NOW.

Theresa must go. That is the conclusion I’ve come to after a weekend of her feeble defence, and a careful consideration of the errors made by the Conservative Party that have led us to here.

It is no secret that I didn’t think she was up to being Prime Minister when she was effectively crowned thus in the Tory leadership election last year, after David Cameron cut and run. Far from an “Anyone but Boris” campaign, I’d have backed anyone but Theresa. Her endless thirst for the role had led her to make poor policy decisions as Home Secretary, and her antipathy towards Human Rights, which should have excluded her from the role, was aimed at keeping the right wing of the party on side; she was, after all, Party Chairman under Iain Duncan Smith, when the Tory Party was at its most toxic.

Theresa’s very visible flaws have become glaringly obvious now she has called an election she didn’t need to, campaigned appallingly badly, and then effectively enhanced a proto-Communist, terrorist appeasing, Iranian and Russian supporting neophyte in Jeremy Corbyn as Opposition Leader.

Worse, she has retoxified the Tory Party, by hitching the majority wagon to the vagaries of the Democratic Unionists, a party of Christian fundamentalists whose beliefs are more in line with the US Republican Party, not a modern democratic right wing party. Trump would not seem to be bonkers in comparison to some of the DUP. Even their relatively presentable Westminster Leader, Nigel Dodds, was criticised for appearing on a platform following the sectarian murder of two terrorists.

There are a number of charges against Theresa May, which will be vexing Tory MPs as they return to Westminster. Firstly, and most heinously, she has presided over a reduction in the number of Tory MPs. David Cameron bequeathed her a Tory Party with 331 MPs, and she now has just 318 MPs. Losing a majority should be enough for her position to become flaky.

Secondly, the campaign itself was the worst in living memory. To be charitable, not all of this will be Theresa May’s fault; but how she takes advice and how she makes decisions is critical to this.

It would appear that nobody was “in charge” of the election campaign. Lynton Crosby was an advisor, as were Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, her recently sacked joint Chiefs of Staff. No doubt Patrick McLoughlin will have had an input as party Chairman. Clearly former Cabinet Office Minister and former Ipswich MP Ben Gummer will have been involved at some level, as he helped write the manifesto. You cannot run an election by committee, and you need one person in charge. In 2010 and 2015 that person was Lynton Crosby. It was only once he was promoted from “advisor” to boss that the ship stabilised, otherwise we could be looking at Prime Minister Corbyn today.

The decision to call a General Election was not, in itself, a terribly bad idea. At 47% in the polls, with Labour struggling on 29%, it seemed obvious that Mrs May would increase her majority, allowing her more freedom to manoeuvre over the Brexit talks; she wouldn’t have been reliant on a relatively small faction of Tory MPs not breaking ranks in one direction or the other. But to suggest, as she did, that it wasn’t called for entirely party political reasons was ridiculous and was rightly scoffed at by the public, who mostly shared the view of Brenda from Bristol – not another one!

But having called an unnecessary General Election, you have to make sure you bloody well win it. Yes, it’s great to have ambitious targets for taking seats in the North East and North West. And she certainly increased Tory support in swathes of seats. Had she not had such a bloody dreadful campaign, she’d likely have won dozens of new seats.

There is a rule about elections and the economy. Two years ago, the refrain “Long Term Economic Plan” was as unerringly uttered by Tory candidates as “Strong and Stable” was this time. This time, despite the promises of the Labour Shadow Chancellor to turn our economy into the “economic miracle that is Venezuela”, we barely heard anything about the economy.

This is because in the rush to call the election, Mrs May had forgotten to draft a manifesto, and so when the manifesto was rushed out, it didn’t include any costings. So, despite the IFS damning the Labour manifesto as unworkable, they also said that the Tories were not being honest with the voters. This made the economy almost impossible to campaign on.

Instead the Tories were left with a Presidential style election, which this country never really likes, promoting an uncosted manifesto and hoping that the attacks on Jeremy Corbyn for his support for terrorists (IRA, Hamas, Hezbollah) and his views on shoot to kill and nuclear power would sway the country their way.

The problem for the Tories was that the Corbyn record on terror is so bad, it was dismissed by voters as made up. Nobody seems capable of believing that a British MP, that nice kind looking gentleman, would back the IRA.

Even when those who brought about the peace process, like Seamus Mallon and Ken Maginnis said he wasn’t involved, nobody believed it. They believed him when he said he fought for peace, despite Seamus Mallon, deputy to John Hume, the former Social Democratic and Labour Party leader and the architect of the peace process, telling The Sunday Times: “I never heard anyone mention Corbyn at all.

“He very clearly took the side of the IRA and that was incompatible, in my opinion, with working for peace.”

Lord Maginnis, the former Ulster Unionist MP, said: “I was central to the peace process and Corbyn had no participation in it that I was aware of.”

So, faced with an electorate who didn’t believe their claims about their opponent, a Leader who was about as wooden as the Trojan horse, and an election campaign that couldn’t mention the economy, the Tory campaign drowned. Rather than increasing the Tory majority won by hard graft in 2015, Theresa May’s hubris lost the Tories a majority and left her reliant on the DUP to cling to power.

All of this was avoidable. When Amber Rudd’s father sadly passed away, 48 hours before the Cambridge debate among party leaders, Theresa May could have stopped the bleeding and swung the country back to her. She could have appeared on that stage, won the debate, explained her points, and returned to Downing Street victorious. Except… her failings were that she was a wooden performer – even junior campaign staff called her the Maybot – and she is incapable of emoting.

It has been suggested to me in recent days that women in power are always considered to be witches, and are given a harder time than men in similar positions, especially when they don’t show their softer side. It is true that people expected more emotion from a female leader, but I don’t think they were any easier on Gordon Brown, whose social afflictions were such that he did all he could to avoid emoting.

I think that the campaign was basically sunk by two things; a Labour strategic masterstroke, in offering a £27,000 bribe to young voters, and Theresa May’s appalling character flaws, that make her unfit to be a Party Leader in the 21st Century.

It is time for her to make way for a leader more at ease with themselves and with their Conservative values. Whether that is Boris (please no) or David Davis, or Nicky Morgan, or Liam Fox, or any of the other likely runners and riders, it should absolutely not be Theresa May.

Nuclear weapons renewal? Not in my name…

One of the things that Theresa May will have had to do when she became Prime Minister is to sit down and write a letter.

This letter is entirely private, and we should hope that it is never ever read. It is a “letter of last resort” and gives instructions to the commanding officer of Britain’s nuclear submarines, to be followed in the event of a nuclear war wiping out the British Government.

Every Prime Minister writes a letter, and it is destroyed unopened when that Prime Minister leaves office, leaving its contents known only to them. So we should hope and pray that Mrs May’s letter is never ever read.

Nuclear weapons exist, and their existence is a tragedy which has the potential to end the world. That Britain has nuclear weapons is a matter of historical fact, thanks to the decisions made by the Labour Government after World War Two. The nuclear weapons that Clement Atlee commissioned have been replaced and updated, and on Monday Parliament will be asked, once again, to approve the purchase of the new Successor submarines, to replace the Vanguard class submarines that currently make up the UK’s Continuous At Sea Deterrent.

In some ways the decision to schedule the vote on Trident replacement is more about politics than it is about the need for the UK to update these submarines. The new Prime Minister parked her tanks on the centre ground when she took power last week, and while there have been some right-wing appointments in her Cabinet, moderates like Amber Rudd, Justine Greening, Liz Truss, Greg Clark, and Ben Gummer, have all seen preferment. This is an issue where Tory Party strategists believe that the public concerns about Jeremy Corbyn’s national security positions will help secure the next General Election.

Tory Party strategists may well be right; Labour Party policy is in favour of replacing Trident, but Mr Corbyn and the majority of the new members are firmly against it. The level of support for nuclear weapons in the country is really quite surprisingly high. But just occasionally the minority opinion is the right thing to do.

Nuclear weapons are massively expensive, and completely pointless. As I have pointed out before, there is a reason they call it MAD. Mutually Assured Destruction is a policy that would see everybody dead. Despite seventy years of conflict since the last time anyone used a nuclear weapon, the appalling impact of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has meant that nobody has ever used them again.

As I have written before, I don’t believe any Government will ever use them. Of the nine states with nuclear weapons, two, India & Pakistan, have been at war with each other a number of times. North Korea is led by a madman and is technically still at war with South Korea and the United States. Israel has been attacked on an almost daily basis by Iranian sponsored terrorists of Hamas and Hezbollah. Not once have any of these countries used the dread power that they have at their command. Because they know that it would be entirely mad to do so.

The UK remains a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. The Government is committed to multi-lateral disarmament. Yet while these weapons are updated, and “improved” to make them harder to defend against and even more deadly, true disarmament will not happen.

Normally I would argue passionately against unilateral actions. If your enemy has a weapon, you need it too. But that isn’t the case with nuclear weapons. As a member nation of NATO, we live under the US and French nuclear umbrella. If we were attacked by a nuclear state, our NATO allies are treaty bound to defend us, or to respond with nuclear force. NOT having our own nuclear weapons would make absolutely no difference to our nation’s defence; all it would mean is that we wouldn’t be able to make a belligerent nuclear attack on any nation. Does anyone really want us to have the capacity to make a belligerent nuclear attack on another nation?

On Monday our MPs will troop through the yes lobby and vote in favour of renewing Trident. Almost all Tory MPs will support it, and many Labour MPs will follow their party policy as well. But, despite being a tribal Tory voter, I will be, in spirit, with those MPs from all parties who vote against renewing our nuclear weapons. We do not need these weapons. We cannot afford these weapons. We should not be wasting this money on such pointless weapons systems.

Labour’s civil war has to end, now.

11-Jeremy-Corbyn-Alamy

Left-winger Jeremy Corbyn campaigns against a Labour Council with a 47-1 majority (the one non Labour councillor is a Green).

I think the civil war in the middle of the Labour Party is profoundly dangerous for our nation. Labour has a constitutional role to play in our two party system. By fighting among themselves they are not keeping the Tories on their toes. Osborne should have been torn to shreds, but silly games meant that the only thing the public will remember from the Autumn Statement is Mao’s little red book.

I don’t blame Corbyn. I think he is a nice guy, with solid principles, who has found himself out of his depth. He is surrounded by numpties, who don’t seem capable of running a national political party.

I don’t entirely blame the Parliamentary Party – though I take what is happening as a warning against the membership choosing a candidate that the Parliamentary Party has little respect for. IDS was selected by the Tory membership, and he was a disaster as leader. But the Tory Party didn’t implode in quite the way the Labour Party appears to be.

I think the Parliamentary Party – well some of them – are truly fearful that Mr Corbyn’s policies won’t win them an election. They don’t want to see five years of Tory Govt (any more than Corbyn does) and they fear that if Corbyn goes on they will lose in 2020. They’re protecting their jobs and, in their mind, their party.

It must also be really galling to be told by people who voted Green or Socialist Party, or Left Unity or TUSC at the last election that suddenly if you aren’t a Corbynite you are effectively a Tory. I know that during the IDS era I had a Tory association officer (now with UKIP, ironically) tell me that I should go and join New Labour. I nearly hit him. So I can understand why John Woodcock and other MPs are quite so quick to go to the media. They must really be angry with those they perceive are ruining their party.

The civil war inside the Labour Party may be mildly amusing for some Tories, deeply worrying for others, but for people like me, it is frightening. I don’t frankly care who runs the Labour Party. I don’t frankly care what policies they pursue. But they have to get on with the day job; they have to take the fight to the Tories.

This country demands any Government is kept on its toes by a strong opposition; an opposition that could be considered an alternative Government. Labour currently trails the Tories by 11 points. Only 25% of people think Corbyn is doing a good job as leader; 46% of people think disagree, with the remaining 30% undecided.

While Labour tears itself apart, there is no credible opposition. It certainly doesn’t seem like this is a Government with a majority of 12.

On Trident is Corbyn the only sane man in a room of madmen

Corbyn CND

On August 6th 1945 the USA dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Three days later they dropped the world’s first hydrogen bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. Within twenty four hours of the first bomb, some 35,000 – 60,000 people were dead – either killed in the initial explosion, or dying very quickly afterwards from radiation burns, radiation sickness or injuries sustained in the bombing. When the second bomb went off a further 20,000 died within 24 hours. The total death toll in these two cities was estimated to be 246,000.

The Hiroshima bomb, Little Boy, was incredibly inefficient and only 1.7% of its fissionable material was consumed. Nevertheless it was the equivalent of 16,000 tonnes of TNT. A 1 mile radius of total destruction, along with the deaths of 30% of the population of Hiroshima, were the results.

The Nagasaki bomb, Fat Man, was more efficient, and produced an explosion equivalent to 21,000 tonnes of TNT. Large hills prevented the majority of the blast from levelling the city, but the heat generated from the blast was estimated at 3900 degrees Celsius and winds produced topped 624 mph. Amazingly only 150 died in the initial blast, but it is estimated 80,000 died as a result of the radiation.

To date this is the only time a nuclear weapon has been used in anger. The Soviet Union obtained the bomb in 1949 and there are now nine nations with nuclear weapons, including the USA, Russian Federation, the UK, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea.

The Royal Navy currently has four Vanguard class nuclear submarines, which are the lynchpins of our “independent” nuclear deterrent. Each of these four nuclear submarines carries 16 Trident II D5LE nuclear ballistic missiles, a total of 64 missiles. Each missile can carry a Mark 5 Multiple Independently Targeted Re-entry Vehicle or MIRV, which can target up to 14 W88 warheads, which have a blast equivalent to 475,000 tonnes of TNT. William Hague told the House of Commons that the UK only has 160 warheads and that this number would not be increased.

The Royal Navy maintains a constant “at sea” watch with these weapons of mass destruction, which costs approximately £2.4 billion each year in operating costs, the equivalent of 6% of the UK defence budget.

We have the ability to destroy a city the size of Hiroshima 10 times over with every warhead. So we could, should we so wish, take out up to 160 cities of a million people or more. This nuclear deterrent is, we are told, vital to our national security.

Is it though?

The outrage expressed by the Tories when Jeremy Corbyn told the truth and said he would never push the nuclear button – were there such a thing – and therefore would not, as Prime Minister, order a nuclear counter-strike, is fake. Not one of the politicians currently lining up to condemn Corbyn would be prepared to order a nuclear strike – not even our current PM.

There is a reason that the acronym for Mutually Assured Destruction is MAD. You would have to be certifiably insane to ever order such weapons to be used. As a result, the very destructiveness of nuclear weapons guarantee their obsolescence. Nobody, not even Vladimir Putin or Donald Trump, would ever use nuclear weapons.

Among the nine states with viable nuclear weapons are India & Pakistan – two countries that have been to war 4 times since 1947 – and North Korea, who are still at war with South Korea. Yet not one of these three nations have used their nuclear weapons.

The State of Israel is in a permanent fight for its very existence. Yet despite having been a nuclear power for decades, it has never used nuclear weapons against Iran (who constantly carry out military operations in Israel using their proxies Hezbollah) or any other nation.

The idea that there would ever be a set of circumstances in which the UK felt the need to use nuclear weapons is just as certifiable as the idea that we might be successfully invaded by the Faroe Islands. It is NEVER going to happen.

Which brings me back to Jeremy Corbyn. Why on earth is it a threat to National Security for him to say what everyone already knows – that our nuclear fleet is pointless? That it is neither independent nor a deterrent. That it is a colossal waste of money and should be consigned to the history books.

While Mr Corbyn would no doubt rather spend the £2.4 billion each year saved by scrapping our nuclear force on education or hospitals, a position I might well agree with him on, there is no doubt that our conventional forces could do with significant better procurement and improved equipment. Surely freeing up £2.4bn from the defence budget would allow the Ministry of Defence to ensure that we really do have the best equipped and best trained military in the world.

Corbyn voters are betraying the poor, the sick, the disabled

Left-winger Jeremy Corbyn campaigns against a Labour Council with a 47-1 majority (the one non Labour councillor is a Green).

Left-winger Jeremy Corbyn campaigns against a Labour Council with a 47-1 majority (the one non Labour councillor is a Green).

Ten Labour councillors in Liverpool are the latest recruits to the Jeremy Corbyn bandwagon sweeping the 1% of the population who are members or supporters of the Labour Party. In a letter to the Liverpool Echo they say that “The Labour Party’s first duty should be to oppose the Government and in particular the punishment of the poor and to challenge the narrative that somehow they are to blame for the financial crisis.

“We believe there is a different path than austerity and that the leadership election provides an opportunity for us to debate this with the British public.”

They go on to say that the Tories don’t believe in education, health, or small businesses, in the way that Labour do. I’m not going to allow myself to be distracted by that – though for a party that saw Britain drop down international league tables for maths, English and science like a stone, caused the Stafford Hospital disaster, along with other target driven horrors, and voted against legislation that has led to the largest increase in the number of small businesses in decades, that’s a pretty arrogant statement.

Instead I am more concerned about their view that the Labour Party’s first duty should be to oppose the Government.

It absolutely must not be to oppose the Government. The first duty of a political party is to seek to become the Government, not merely to oppose it.

While it might be more comfortable to be in opposition, insulated from the tough decisions that come with priority setting in Government, it is an outrageously selfish indulgence to become an ideologically pure opposition, rather than seek to become a Government.

In the last election we had Labour activists condemning the Government for the ‘Bedroom Tax’. Caroline Flint came to Ipswich and handed out signed copies of the Bill she was going to introduce to repeal the legislation that brought to an end the Spare Room Subsidy.

We had Labour activists condemning the Government for closing children’s centres, including three right here in Ipswich.

Since the election we have had Labour activists outraged at the £12 billion in cuts to welfare.

Yet the Labour Party is in opposition. Which means that it can do absolutely nothing to stop any of these policies, policies that it claims hurt those it seeks to protect – the poor, the downtrodden, minorities, the disabled.

Without power the Labour Party can say and do whatever it likes. It can go down through the looking glass to Wonderland and pronounce on policy objectives that would see its economic policy tied to printing new money – like Zimbabwe or interwar Germany – or its foreign policy tied to the naïve views of those complacent Guardianistas in northern Islington. It can decide to roll back 1980s union legislation, and return to the policies described in Michael Foot’s “longest suicide note in history.”

Nobody in the Tory party will much care. Indeed there will be those who will celebrate seeing a once proud foe brought so low by its own hubris.

But the country will care. The Labour Party exists for the many, not the few. It exists to improve the lives of the working class. It exists to espouse policies that will lift up the poor, support the disabled, heal the sick. While in opposition it can be as ideologically pure as it likes, but it won’t help a single citizen of this country. Without power, a political party is in a holding position. Without seeking power it is a complete waste of time.

Jeremy Corbyn is not going to win the next General Election for his party. This country has not elected a left wing Government since 1974. The argument that he has personally won elections in Islington is bunkum; the country is not Islington.

There are those who are voting for Jeremy Corbyn in the deluded view that he will be the next Prime Minister. Yes I do believe they are deluded. They are as credible as those Ukippers who were expecting Prime Minister Nigel Farage.

What is more disappointing from the Labour Party is the number of its activists who don’t appear to care that they won’t win a General Election with Mr Corbyn as leader. Who would rather be an ideologically pure opposition than a compromised Government.

These activists do not have the best interests of the Labour Party at heart. They certainly don’t have the best interests of Labour voters at heart. They are selfish and self-indulgent and they are betraying the party of Ramsey Macdonald, Clement Atlee, Harold Wilson, Jim Callaghan, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Policies that deliver will help Labour reconnect with traditional voters

Labour Party Logo 2014

The insight into why Labour lost in Scotland came from reading an interview with Mhairi Black MP. The youngest member of the House of Commons – by some way – the 20 year old SNP MP grew up in a Labour family. But crucially they switched to the SNP in 2007. Because the SNP delivered social change, while Labour just talked about it.

For years I have wondered why on earth people who live in poverty vote Labour. It makes no sense to me that in Ipswich, for instance, the council estates with the highest incidence of anti-social behaviour, with the worst roads, with a real paucity of services, are also the same places that are most strongly voting for the Labour Party who have run this council since 1979 – save for a brief hiatus between 2004 and 2011.

Some Tories in Ipswich – and elsewhere – call it turkey’s voting for Christmas. That’s pretty insulting, but it isn’t entirely uncalled for.

Between 1997 and 2010 the Labour Government did produce a number of policies that helped some of the poorest in society. But Blair won power by identifying that the public didn’t trust the Labour Party, and deliberately demonstrating his scorn for his party. He picked fights with “the Labour left” and characterised them as dinosaurs. What he was actually doing was separating himself from the heart of his party and that explains why so many people in Labour now would prefer to pretend that Blair never happened – a position Tories find bizarre.

Because Blair had won power by separating himself from Labour – in a way that Gordon Brown, the other big beast of New Labour, never did – the New Labour project became more about winning than in what Labour could do with that power. As a consequence, many of the policies pushed for the last 20 years have not helped those Labour are supposed to help.

The Labour Party is, at heart, the voice of the workers. It should be a movement about improving the conditions of the working people of this country, about improving their lot in life, and about supporting their ambitions to ensure that their children have a better life than they had.

Yet in Government, Labour introduced tuition fees, then increased them as top up fees. It introduced a system of benefits that sought to subsidise big businesses, allowing them to hold down wages and leaving people reliant on tax credits. It introduced the 10% tax rate – then scrapped it, doubling the tax rate for the poorest paid. It welcomed – nay encouraged – millions of unskilled workers to come to this country and drive down the wages of the British working class.

Is it really any surprise that Labour voters in safe Labour seats (they still exist in England and Wales) have become more and more lethargic? Turnout among Labour voters has collapsed in many core seats – and has become almost non-existent in many Scottish seats.

To many, Jeremy Corbyn is a disaster waiting to happen to Labour. I am quite convinced that he would lead Labour to defeat in 2020, even if the Tories selected a complete tool like Chris Grayling as their new leader when Cameron steps down. But it might just be that Mr Corbyn is what Labour needs, so the party can remember where it comes from.

At some point in the future, Labour will pull through this existential crisis. Rather than plumping for one of the three candidates parroting whatever they think the voters want to hear – as Alexandre Ledru-Rollin supposedly said, “there go my people. I must follow them, for I am their leader” – Labour should seriously consider electing Jeremy Corbyn and reconnecting with those traditional Labour voters who have been patronised by the party for the last quarter of a century.

From defeat can come triumph. George Osborne’s greatest trick has been to convince the public that Labour caused the 2008 recession, rather than merely leaving the country incapable of weathering the gathering storm in the way it did during the dot com crash. But his second greatest trick has been to avoid answering tricky questions – like what happened to balancing the budget by the end of the last Parliament; what happened to rebalancing the economy towards manufacturing and away from services; what happened to making the economy less reliant on consumer spending, credit and debt?

Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall are the only two candidates capable of asking those questions without being asked about Labour’s record. Corbyn, because everyone knows he was busy opposing just about everything New Labour stood for. And Kendall because she’s only been around since 2010 and therefore can avoid the blame for the mistakes made by Brown, Balls and Miliband in the Treasury.

If the new Labour leader can put Osborne back on his heels, can reconnect with traditional Labour voters, can offer a different and coherent economic strategy for the future, then sure, we’ll reopen the ideological battles between Labour and the Tories, and sure the Tories (and I along with them no doubt) will argue that Labour are wrong, but if they stick to core principles, if there is a coherence to their policy platform, a consistency that chimes with what they profess to believe, there is no reason they cannot make major gains in 2020.

Indeed if they take the lesson Mhairi Black was sent to Westminster to tell them – that delivery for the people they are supposed to represent is the only thing that matters to those people – they could see an SNP style sweeping of the board. Harness the power of hope and deliver power to the people, and you will always beat the politics of fear and negativity.

Why not the “ultimate rebel” as Prime Minister?

Left-winger Jeremy Corbyn campaigns against a Labour Council with a 47-1 majority (the one non Labour councillor is a Green).

Left-winger Jeremy Corbyn campaigns against a Labour Council with a 47-1 majority (the one non Labour councillor is a Green).

“I’m voting for Jeremy because I don’t think any of the candidates are capable of winning in 2020 so I think we need to remember why we’re Labour.”

“I don’t see why people think he’s unelectable. He speaks to my issues.”

“The other three candidates don’t seem to have any policy ideas. They’re just politicians. Jeremy believes what he says.”

These are just some of the reasons local Labour supporters, including members of Ipswich Borough Council, have given me for supporting Jeremy Corbyn in recent weeks. Those who blithely bury their heads in the sand and insist that even the Labour Party isn’t that bonkers need to spend less time in their ivory towers (or Grafton House as it is called) and more time talking with their own supporters.

I am yet to find a single person prepared to tell me they would vote for the only Labour leadership candidate who realises the party lost the last General Election because it wasn’t credible on the economy – Liz Kendall.

I am yet to find anyone who will openly support either Yvette Cooper or Andy Burnham – though both have significant backers, especially among the local party membership. I can remember, for instance, David Ellesmere telling me that Yvette Cooper was a future Labour Prime Minister, though that was several years ago, and he did loyally insist that Ed Miliband would be PM first.

But Jeremy Corbyn is the popular choice among Labour’s affiliated members, registered Labour supporters and others who have a vote. Or at least that is what recent discussions have told me.

What the media is completely forgetting, however, is that it doesn’t matter who comes first. The Labour Party prefers to elect the person who comes second. David Miliband won the backing of more MPs and more party members, but affiliated members backed his brother by a much larger margin and so we had five years of Ed Miliband. The crucial thing for this election will not be how many people vote for Jeremy Corbyn. It will be how many of Liz Kendall’s second preference votes go to Andy Burnham and how many go to Yvette Cooper. It will be how many of Andy’s second preference votes go to Yvette and how many of Yvette’s go to Andy.

Liz Kendall looks set to come last, and will therefore be eliminated first. Her second preference votes will be split between the other three candidates. Whoever is then last – and I suspect it will be close – will then be eliminated, and their second preference votes redistributed between the remaining two candidates – and whoever has the most votes overall will then become leader.

If the polls turn out to be as accurate at polling Labour activists and registered supporters as they were at polling Labour voters up to 7th May, then Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper could already be ahead. Indeed Liz Kendall could have a silent majority of support out there. But from conversations with Labourites here in Ipswich, I don’t think so.

We could be just five years away from Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Jeremy Corbyn MP.

To quote a senior Labour figure from the Speccie the other week – we’re in real fuckaroo territory now.