1 Sep 2015

Labour leadership debate: a ‘relaxed and confident’ Jeremy Corbyn

The Channel 4 News’ Labour leadership hustings: Yvette Cooper takes Jeremy Corbyn to task on QE. Andy Burnham tries to do the same on Trident.  Jeremy Corbyn looks relaxed and confident throughout.

There are reports that turnout in the contest is looking like it could be between 65 per cent to 70 per cent, though that’s hard to predict with ballot papers still coming in. Labour says nearly all the ballot papers that will be sent out have been sent out.

There was quite a shake-out of duplicate sign-ups and made-up names that didn’t appear on the electoral register revealed last week when Harriet Harman met up with the candidates. There were 57,000 trimmed off the leadership electorate, of which only 3,000 were deemed to be entrists from other parties.

Another update on filtering out infiltrators etc is expected later this week but the signs are that it will be nothing like the same numbers as the “low-hanging fruit” that has already been dealt with.

There are varying estimates of just how many people in the Labour selectorate are longstanding members. The Times today suggests that full members who had the right to vote in the 2010 leadership election (won by Ed Miliband but not in the membership section of the then college, which was won by David Miliband) are now outnumbered 90 to 10 by newcomers. Labour officials say it could be more like 80 to 20. Whichever you believe, it is a phenomenal shift.

In the Channel 4 News hustings, Jeremy Corbyn repeats his warning to Labour MPs that they had better heed the views of those who back him. He also repeats his intention to bind the new registered supporters into full membership. That would massively solidify his position as leader and protect him better against any coup attempts. (He has three NEC positions as his disposal potentially if he wants to tilt the shift of National Executive decisions his way by replacing three current members.)

Labour stalwarts say Jeremy Corbyn would face a challenge convincing full party members who are conference delegates that the £3-a-go supporters deserve the same rights as £45-a-go full members. We don’t know how Jeremy Corbyn plans to go about translating his support windfall into permanent backing, but a straight upgrade might be tricky.

On a separate note, as I write, Peter Robinson, the DUP leader, is in No. 10 speaking with the PM about the possible “adjournment” of Stormont and the power-sharing executive. The PM is expected to meet Martin McGuinness for talks possibly as soon as tomorrow.

One senior figure in the DUP said he struggled to think of an occasion when the DUP had voted the same way as Jeremy Corbyn. The prime minister’s effective majority, he suggested, was heading upwards the moment Jeremy Corbyn is elected leader.

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