The Labour leadership candidates need to know when the party's over


At the outset of the Labour leadership race Emily Thornberry made a pledge that was both laudable and laughable.

The shadow Foreign Secretary said that, if elected leader, she would quit if it became apparent she had become a drag on the party.

This was a steely-eyed side glance at Jeremy Corbyn  who led his party to its worst result for nearly 100 years in full knowledge that his leadership was one of the main reasons, if not the main reason, why people could not bring themselves to vote Labour. 

With Corbyn some would say it was obvious when he had reached the stage of fulfilling the Thornberry Test  – that a leader should step down for the sake of the party.

But how should you judge when the criteria has been met?

Six consecutive months of negative poll ratings?

The five contenders for the Labour leadership: Emily Thornberry, Jess Phillips, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy

Ask people to press a button on one of those satisfaction monitors which seem to populate every transport terminal?

A show of hands in a couple of focus groups?

This is where the Thornberry Test runs into problems.

The poll ratings of party leaders tend to fluctuate. 

Tony Blair was almost unique in spending his whole time as opposition leader with a net positive poll rating. 

Corbyn was able to prove his doubters wrong in 2017 but not 2019.

But Thornberry does have a point.

It was an act of vanity or stubbornness by Corbyn to have gone into December’s election knowing he was damaging a party he professes to love.

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Should Jeremy Corbyn have quit to save Labour from a drubbing at the election?

Most politicians are blind to their faults and rarely understand how they are perceived by the public.

But all the Labour candidates should ask themselves whether the party will prosper if they are elected leader.

There is more than one contender who, if they really cared about Labour’s fortunes, should consider quitting now.

Boris Johnson’s plan to move the Lords out of London has been dismissed as a gimmick

Back in 1999 I wrote an article for the Birmingham Post arguing for the House of Lords to be moved to Brum.

This was not, I later found to my disappointment, a new idea. 

The Economist had run an editorial in 1968 saying the Lords should be based in York.

Now Boris Johnson is looking at the possibility  of the moving the second chamber out of the capital. 

You suspect, as my colleague Kevin Maguire has noted, this is more about distracting attention from the appointment of yet another raft of cronies to the Lords and  creating a smokescreen for the HS2 debacle  than a genuine attempt to shift power to the regions.

The Tories are in danger of treating anywhere north of Watford in the same condescending manner of a Victorian missionary stumbling across a previously unexplored area of the subcontinent.

A change of geography does not necessarily  equate to a change of outlook.

Today’s agenda:

Boris Johnson attends Africa Investment summit in London.

1pm – Mumsnet chat with Jess Phillips.

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2.30pm – Gavin Williamson takes Education questions in the Commons.

3.30pm (approx) – Queen’s speech debate on the economy and jobs.

6pm – Weekly meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

What I am reading:

Kevin Maguire on the reality of Boris Johnson’s Brexit





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