24 Sep 2016

Jeremy Corbyn increases his majority

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Jeremy Corbyn MP gives the thumbs up to supporters after being announced as the leader of the Labour Party on the eve of the party's annual conference at the ACC on September 24, 2016 in Liverpool, England. The leadership battle between Jeremy Corbyn and MP for Pontypridd Owen Smith, was triggered by Labour MPs who were unhappy with Mr Corbyn's leadership in the run up to the Brexit referendum. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Jeremy Corbyn has increased his majority, a pretty rare feat his team say. His share of the vote has gone up from 59.5 per cent to 61.8 per cent, largely thanks to an increased share of the members’ section of the vote.

Owen Smith, the defeated challenger, congratulated Mr Corbyn on “having changed the nature of the Labour Party.”

If it’s not the one he joined – is he still happy staying around?

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Implied but not stated is the suggestion that Mr Corbyn has swamped the party with like-minded folk who haven’t always been part of the Labour family.

Amongst people who were members of the Labour Party-pre 2015, Owen Smith picked up 63% of support according to a YouGov survey. Amongst post-2015 members, Mr Corbyn picked up 74%. Mr Corbyn’s team say this is proof that he’s tapping into opinion that’s been politically homeless in the country. Though YouGov’s survey suggests 26% of Corbyn voters voted for another party at the 2015 General Election – thanks to Matt Singh @MattSingh for spotting that.)

Mr Corbyn talked immediately after the result of the need to unite and the responsibility the whole party now had, MPs included, to work together and respect the democratic choice.

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John Woodcock was one of the very few MPs in the hall to hear the result. He said the leader often delivered welcoming prose only for the team around him to be far less welcoming if not hostile.

I asked Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, if he thought the leadership challenge had been a good democratic exercise and he said it had. I pointed out that in the brand new issue of Labour Briefing being handed out at the Conference gate he wrote that “the leadership election was a classic attempt at a coup.” Which was it, I asked? Both, he claimed.

One senior Momentum figure later caught sight of me holding the McDonnell article and muttered that there were “different versions” of the “what happens next” plan and that was “not quite the authorised one.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Jeremy Corbyn MP (R) is congratulated by Owen Smith MP after being announced as the leader of the Labour Party on the eve of the party's annual conference at the ACC on September 24, 2016 in Liverpool, England. The leadership battle between Jeremy Corbyn and MP for Pontypridd Owen Smith, was triggered by Labour MPs who were unhappy with Mr Corbyn's leadership in the run up to the Brexit referendum. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The “authorised one” is the interview John McDonnell gave to The Mirror, in which he emphasises the outreach programme of tea and chat that’s started with former Labour frontbenchers and is intended to win back bigger names to the front bench they walked out on without having to yield the Shadow Cabinet elections pleaded for by many MPs.

Team Corbyn sees an anti-Corbyn dominated Shadow Cabinet as a trap on several levels, not least the fact that it would allow the Shadow Cabinet to choose 3 places on the NEC, the governing committee of the Labour Party and the focus of the Left’s struggle against the Labour establishment since time began.

In his Labour Briefing article, Mr McDonnell also suggests the leadership “appoint a shadow team of civil service type permanent secretaries each one attached to each Shadow Cabinet team.” I think that’ll read to some as leadership spies in each team.

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