Labour Party Putsch: The Traitors’ Dilemma – by Rob Atkinson


Jeremy Corbyn – serenely immovable

This article was previously published in the Huffington Post

The die is cast, the ringleaders are known, their motives are nakedly obvious for all to see. The Parliamentary Labour Party coup, conceived months ago to be hatched when the timing was right, has not gone well so far. Firstly, several previous anticipated opportunities have failed to materialise. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour was fancied to lose the Oldham by-election, but it held the seat and the plotters, poised quivering and eager to pounce, had to slink frustrated back into the undergrowth.

Then, the Local Council elections. Again, there looked to be an opportunity, with the ever-obliging BBC prematurely reporting a night of disaster for Corbyn’s troops, only to be embarrassed as things turned out annoyingly well, with Labour emerging as the largest party. The EU Referendum was Last Chance Saloon – the final opportunity before the publication of the Chilcot Report, with all of its possible nasty ramifications for the Blairites of the PLP.

So, the script was written before the results were known, in line with furtive early preparations elsewhere pre-dating overt action. But yet again, the figures have not stacked up as desired. In the face of a brutal and mendacious Leave campaign, Corbyn’s Labour members voted almost two to one to remain – a highly respectable figure given the fertile territory the likes of UKIP and Farage have found among the disaffected and marginalised poor. Labour’s remain vote was only a percentage point or two short of that of the SNP – and nobody’s calling Nicola Sturgeon a referendum failure.

All of the pretexts upon which the anti-Corbyn movement hoped to base their rebellion have turned out to be duds. Despite their own professed agenda and the complaisant backing of the media, their motives are paper-thin and full of holes. But there’s that pesky Chilcot thing in the offing, and it’s imperative to get rid of Corbyn before he can use a damning report to start inflicting some long overdue justice. So, for the traitors, it’s realistically now or never.

But there’s another problem. The leadership challenge as such is probably not such a good idea. The incumbent leader would be on the ballot paper as of right, and looks set fair to trounce any and all opposition, possibly by a wider margin than even last September’s historic landslide. If Corbyn could be persuaded to stand down, that’d be a different matter. He’d then need to secure enough PLP backing to be nominated for a leadership election – which would of course be relatively unlikely, as demonstrated by the constitutionally impotent no-confidence motion. So a Corbyn resignation is decidedly the way to go. But Jeremy steadfastly refuses to budge, citing the enormous mandate he was given only nine months ago.

Hence the current impasse. The unedifying spectacle now playing out is a bitterly ironic one of deeply dishonourable men and women calling upon a decent man – that rarity in politics – to “do the honourable thing”, and resign. They seem eager to give him extra increments of time, hoping against hope he’ll “see sense”. The right-wing press throng the touchlines, oafishly cheering on these turncoats. But Corbyn knows that resignation would not be the honourable course. It would be highly convenient, for the would-be usurpers, but honourable? No way. So he carries serenely on, under immense strain, while his detractors seethe helplessly.

This is the classic Traitors’ Dilemma – act recklessly, or perform a humiliating retreat?. What are they to do now, if this inconveniently honourable and determined man refuses to fall on his sword? Skulk away again, with Chilcot waiting to explode in their faces? Hardly. Launch a challenge anyway then, and damn the consequences? Well, to be the means by which Corbyn increases his already massive authority in the Labour Party as a whole – that’s hardly the sort of history your average Blairite wants to be making.

Angela Eagle, who has shed tears of pure crocodile in the past few days, together with the rest of the opportunists thirsting for the kill, all of them are faced with the Devil’s Alternative. Whichever way they decide to act, they’re likely to plummet into an abyss of obscurity and ridicule. It really is a very problematic situation. But it’s one, let us not forget, entirely of their own making.

10 responses to “Labour Party Putsch: The Traitors’ Dilemma – by Rob Atkinson

  1. I’m outraged at the way Corbyn has and is being treated. Clearly the establishment is very worried by him. I voted for him and for the most part have been impressed by his integrity. Where I disagreed was that I voted for Brexit. I’m staggered that his Labour opponents are citing his failure to deliver a remain vote from Labour voters as a means to get rid of him. Many Labour voters like me saw the EU debacle differently. The referendum was unique in giving us a real voice in which each and every vote mattered.
    Arrogant attitudes being peddled that assert many of us don’t understand how democracy works are insulting.
    I hope Corbyn triumphs anew and that the Labour Party can regroup and truly represent those who need it most.
    Re the Tories, I despise them and hope Gove fares badly. A leave campaigner needs to to be PM and I’d prefer Leadsom.


  2. Speaking from a neutral point of view , and the typical floating voter , and before you have a go rob there’s millions of us.. I can honestly say that I will not vote for labour with corbyn at the helm , I think he showed he’s weak when we had the referendum and I and 16 million others were very disappointed with the result and think coming out of the EU will cost us dear in years to come , in my eyes Jeremy corbyn stayed in the shadows because he feared that the labour vote would hold it against him as they turned against labour after the Scottish referendum , he showed he was weak rob and I will never vote for a weak leader and potential prime minister


    • And yet, after all the pressure he’s been under, he’s still there and fighting, the last man standing – Cameron, Johnson, Farage, all gone with the wind. None of them fit to clean his boots.


      • Mr orange

        I would agree that he’s a man of principle and the list above you mention are , well to be frank a bunch of tossers , but I think he’s just embarrassing himself by clinging on when all but a minority of his MP’s have no confidence in him.. how will Joe public vote for him .. They won’t rob and I think it could be the beginning of the end of the labour party unless he goes


      • Well, we’ll see about that – but it’s in the country as a whole that Corbyn has his widest support and I think his is a politics whose time has come again. The left are there in their numbers as they’ve always been, but for too long they’ve been disenfranchised, with no viable socialist option to give their vote. They have their man now, and the tide is turning. It’s the bulk of the PLP that are being left behind by this; like it or not their day is done and the Labour Party is no longer their natural home. When Corbyn has a parliamentary party in his own image, we’ll really see polarised politics again, and a massively clear choice for a general election. Far from clinging on in embarrassment, Corbyn is holding true to the massive mandate the Party as a whole gave him. It’s a mandate that will be renewed and even enlarged if anyone is daft enough to challenge him. It takes a strong man to stand firm against what JC has had to put up with, and my hope is that his strength, integrity and determination will see him all the way to Number 10.


  3. Karl Major

    Like Mr O. I too am a floating voter but I voted Brexit. Much as I admire Corbyn’s principles I think he was conspicuous by his absence in the referendum campaign. I thought he might be playing the long game, letting the Tories tear themselves apart whilst Labour looked united. BUT the 17M of us who believe that Britain can be great outside Europe scuppered that unintentionally, The result is, I agree with Mr O. That Corbyn looks weak and the 30% or so of floating voters would not vote for him in a general election. If we are to see the rise of the left, they will need a leader who LOOKS strong.
    Sorry Rob. MOT


    • No need for apologies, this blog is a broad church. But I rather think Labour’s election performances under Corbyn so far paint a rather different picture to the “weakness” theory advanced by the press and swallowed uncritically by the unwary.


  4. Karl Major

    Weren’t the local elections before the EU referendum??
    If Labour is to return to power, it is the floaters who will have to be convinced, there will always be partisan support for both sides Corbyn needs to be a strong leader to overturn the Tories, so far I’m not convinced. He could and should have been explaining to me why we would be better in than out. He didn’t do that and when the remain camp just spouted the end of the world is nigh it rubbed me up the wrong way. Corbyn missed a trick, a great leader wouldn’t have.
    I have no idea whether he will still be leader after he is challenged, Eagle on Monday says the BBC and if he wins he will be untouchable but he still needs to convince us who have no political affiliation if he wants to be PM.


    • Yes, the locals were before the referendum, as I said. I heard JC speak in Wolverhampton about the case for Remain and he convinced me. Interestingly, he carried two thirds of the Labour vote, better than the other leaders. Better too than the constituency figures of his PLP critics. Corbyn is the man for Labour members in the country, as the forthcoming leadership contest will demonstrate. Then it will be for the electorate at any forthcoming by-elections or a general election.


    • Finally , it’s took years but someone has agreed with me ,, cheers Karl ha ha


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