If Jeremy Corbyn is crowned, the hard work starts here
I’m at the QE2 centre in Westminster for the leadership result announcement. I see some longstanding party staffers shaking hands with Team Corbyn people. One Corbyn staff member gestured to the Party official saying: “He’s telling me how difficult it is going to be.”
The Party has revealed turnout is 76.3%, which is close to the London Mayoral turnout so doesn’t suggest we should adjust our expectations, that Jeremy Corbyn probably wins on the first round.
I understand that if he wins Jeremy Corbyn intends to go to the rally for refugees and address the crowd. He hopes to have a Shadow Cabinet sorted by the time he addresses the Parliamentary Labour Party on Monday evening. That’s a gathering he has hardly ever frequented in the past and will be an extraordinary moment. As far as we can work out, 93% of Labour MPs didn’t vote for him.
That engagement probably means that Jeremy Corbyn won’t be able to address the TUC dinner on Monday night at their conference in Brighton. Instead he may address the conference itself on Tuesday. The roof may come off the Brighton Conference Centre when they cheer him to the podium.
Then there is Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday. I predict the new Labour leader will use at least some of his questions to talk on the refugee crisis and that, his team hopes, will make it tricky for David Cameron to do a Flashman number swatting the old Lefty in front of him.
The Party machine let out a collective howl of shock and horror when David Miliband lost to his brother in 2010. Those that stuck with it are now beyond despair. One long-standing party staffer messaged me this morning:
“Labour HQ is like the rooftop of the US embassy in Saigon now. A machine whose principal internal purpose for twenty years has been to entomb the left is about to be conquered and subverted.”
But arriving at the QE2 Centre this morning with a central member of Jeremy Corbyn’s team, she felt she had been in a movie set all morning, travelling in to be part of a victory that could never have been expected, “Cinderella does go to the ball,” she said.
Stephen Pound MP comes prepared for new politics
I last saw Jeremy Corbyn at this particular piece of real estate standing outside with a megaphone as the Chilcot Inquiry into Iraq held public hearings inside. Behind him, protesters wore giant Tony Blair masks with red paint for blood on their hands. Through one of the windows we look straight on to the Tory Campaign headquarters from where Lynton Crosby and others masterminded the mauling of Labour at May’s General Election.
Today he takes over as leader, though all the word from meetings held with his team so far is that he acts more like a collective convener than a traditional leader.
The hard work starts the moment this announcement is over but there will be an ecstatic response from Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters in the hall. The Left breaking out of the tomb, over-turning what it sees as a political elite entwined with big business… the vest-wearers overthrowing the vested interests.