Guido has noticed an interesting rift in one of the most important Labour dynasties. Former leader Neil Kinnock and his son Stephen are backing Lisa Nandy for the leadership. However, former Ed Miliband aide and Stephen’s sister, Rachel Kinnock, has just signed up to Jess Phillips’ campaign team as the campaign event manager. Guido hopes it all stays civil, for the sake of Christmas dinner. After all, it’s not like family rifts have developed in the Labour Party before…
Yesterday’s Sunday Times reported that Seumas Milne is preparing to argue Jeremy Corbyn should stay on after June 8 if he matches the 30.4% Ed Miliband won in 2015. Vote share is certainly being considered by the Corbyn camp, though there is another argument in their locker. In the past ten days prominent Corbynistas have been making the case that their man should emulate Neil Kinnock, who remained as leader after the 1987 election despite losing heavily with a three-figure Tory majority. One pro-Corbyn source says: “There is a tradition of Labour leaders staying on after elections. Kinnock didn’t [resign] in ’87, Callaghan didn’t in ’79.” A second source says that Corbyn following Kinnock in staying on would be “the reasonable thing to do”. Both Callaghan and Kinnock used their leadership post-election defeat to change the Labour Party’s internal structures. The Corbynistas feel this gives them some justification in doing the same…
There is of course a great irony in Jezza invoking the Kinnock case to stay on. On 14 January 1988, the secretary of the left-wing Campaign Group of MPs told the Guardian they were “considering putting up a candidate against Neil Kinnock for the party leadership”. Who was the lefty so keen to remove a Labour leader who had just lost an election? One Jeremy Corbyn…
In the New Statesman, Neil Kinnock tells Corbyn he’s unelectable:
“It’s difficult to see that [Jeremy Corbyn is electable]. Many of the people who voted for Jeremy are outstanding party members who said that they were frustrated – indeed, infuriated – by the failure of Labour to connect with the electorate. I know exactly what they mean, but that’s the test… If Jeremy is seen to be failing to connect to the electorate after a reasonable space of time then he may come to his own conclusions… It’s difficult for him and those closest to him in the circumstances to acquire loyalty and to uphold unity… There’s a fundamental question here and it is whether people want to secure power in the party or to win power for the party. Those people who want to win power, whether they’re left, right or centre, will be watching the evidence and will make their decision on the basis of that evidence. Not because of some spasm of emotion, or the fact that their candidate didn’t get elected: they’ll want to know they have a party that is being led in its advance with the electorate. If that isn’t the case then conclusions must be drawn.”
A co-conspirator over at 83 Victoria Street reports that Neil Kinnock was in the building this morning.
The Westminster serviced office block hosts both Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham’s leadership campaign teams, and no prizes for guessing where the windbag was heading.
The Burnham camp are playing down the meeting, with a source telling Guido that it was just a cup of tea and that the former leader will have “no role, formal or informal” on the campaign: “Andy meets with people from across the party”.
Kinnock didn’t pop in to see Liz though…
From this morning’s Times:
“The problem is never really the assaults from opponents. Certainly, it’s not a problem by comparison with sniping from behind. That’s a distraction.” He said the Blairites attacking Mr Miliband wanted to go back to the “day before yesterday”
Ignoring the 16 loony left MPs who wanted Labour to turn into Syriza on Monday, Prezza has intervened in the growing Labour row with his customary tact and delicate handling of internal party matters:
Mr Milburn criticised his party’s plans for the NHS and accused Ed Miliband of sticking to his “comfort zone”.
Mr Milburn also joined forces with another former Blairite minister, John Hutton, to attack Ed Miliband and Ed Balls for failing to defend New Labour’s economic policies.
Their comments sparked a furious backlash, with ex Deputy PM Lord Prescott accusing them of being “Tory collaborators.”
Consensus seems to be that Blairite former ministers are already preparing for a post-defeat civil war.
— Jim Pickard (@PickardJE) January 29, 2015
It’s pretty telling that the only people leaping to Ed’s defence today are Kinnock and Prescott.
Ed’s former PPS Chuka Umunna is out there – but he’s done a personal profile in Red magazine – which is a little wide of his Shadow BIS brief!
Where are the Shadow Cabinet?
Where are Ed’s praetorian guard?
Where are the 2010 intake, keen to support the leadership?