Guido has obtained an extraordinary recording of Jonathan Ashworth, the serving Shadow Health Minister, giving a candid appraisal of Corbyn and the Labour Party’s chances in this election. He is asked by a friend “If he got in would he be as bad as I suspect?”
“I don’t know, on the security stuff; I worked in No.10, I think the machine will pretty quickly move to safeguard security (I mean the civil service machine). But it’s not going to happen! I can’t see it happening!”
On the prospects for Labour nationally Ashworth tells his worried interlocutor:
“I’ve been going round these national places, it’s dire for Labour… it’s dire… it’s awful for them, and it’s the combination of Corbyn and Brexit….outside of the city seats… it’s abysmal out there… they can’t stand Corbyn and they think Labour’s blocked Brexit. I think middle-class graduates – remainy people – Labour’s doing well among… but not in big enough numbers to deny the Tories a majority.”
When Ashworth is told by his friend that he is trying to “work out what to put in the suitcase [if Corbyn comes to power]” Ashworth tries to reassure him
“I just can’t see it happening. It wouldn’t surprise me – for sake of argument – we held Canterbury because of sort of middle-class, Guardian-reading people, but then the Tories take Bolsover off of Labour it wouldn’t surprise me. The electoral map has being going topsy-turvey because of Brexit and Corbyn.”
On getting rid of Corbyn, Ashworth’s friend says that “Is there any reassurance you can give me as to what sensible Labour MPs could do to stop Corbyn?”
“No because we fucked it up; we fucked it up in 2016 when we went too early. People like me were internally saying ‘this isn’t the right moment’ but I got kind of ignored. But I don’t think we’re going to get there; In Mansfield, in Ashfield, it’s dire for the Labour Party up there, these traditional working areas.”
The friend asks about what would happen if the Tories win a majority government “how long would it take Labour to get its act back together and get rid of Corbyn?”
“That’s the thing that’s on our minds… I think things can change quickly; I think things change more quickly anyway now.”
Labour’s own Shadow Cabinet Health Minister hopes they lose and they can get rid of Jeremy Corbyn. In the event that Corbyn gets into Downing Street, he hopes the Civil Service machine would be able to safeguard national security from Prime Minister Corbyn. Has there ever been a situation where Labour frontbenchers hope their party loses because their leader is a risk to national security?
UPDATE: Boris comments on what Piers Morgan is describing as the “scoop of the election“
Jonathan Ashworth is saying what hundreds of Labour candidates and millions of voters are thinking. Jeremy Corbyn is unfit to be PM because he is blocking Brexit.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 10, 2019