Tonight, on Channel 4 News, Will Self, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s less conventional supporters, admitted, when pressed, that the new Labour Party leader may have less than a month before he is removed. It has only been a matter of days since Mr Corbyn was elected to his new position by a resounding majority – yet the plan to oust him is already becoming apparent. The attack will come from three sides – from the media, from the Tory Party and – the main thrust – from within the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), which is mostly Tory in approach and policy. This three-pronged attack is expanded upon below. Two very different scenarios/outcomes are presented – the first sees Mr Corbyn ousted very early on; the second sees the ‘rebels’ (the Labour right) defeated and Mr Corbyn go on to…well, read it for yourself.
A. Scenario One (worst case)
How Corbyn will be ousted…
1. The Media
This is very predictable. We’ve already seen examples of the untruths and outright lies (e.g. that the new Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell is an IRA supporter – see here for what he really said) by the media – particularly by the Murdoch press and tabloids generally (The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Sun, Daily Mail, etc). Their attacks on Corbyn will continue unabated over the next days and weeks and these attacks will intensify.
The largely pro-Labour or anti-Tory media – e.g. The Guardian, Daily Mirror and The Independent – will counter these attacks, but at the same time – for ‘balance’ – give voice to critics of Corbyn from within the Labour Party (i.e. Blairites). There will be attacks on Mr Corbyn’s character, his policies and, inevitably, attempts to dig up any dirt on him that can be found.
2. The Conservative Party
Tory HQ decided to aim high from Corbyn’s Day One onwards and published a barrage of media – video, tweets, flyers – all aimed at suggesting Mr Corbyn was a national security risk. Tory HQ may have made the mistake of firing its biggest guns too early, though, presumably, it decided a pre-emptive, major attack was better than a series of lesser ones.
In Parliament, despite speculation that Cameron et al will treat Mr Corbyn with respect, it is more likely that Prime Minister and his colleagues will take every opportunity to try and belittle the Opposition leader, ridicule him, treat him as an oddity and to generally rubbish whatever he has to say.
Though they will leave it up to the PLP to stick in the knife at the right point in time.
3. The enemy within: the Labour ‘rebels’
The main thrust of the attack against Mr Corbyn will come from within. Perhaps an indication of what form this attack will assume is given by an account of Mr Corbyn’s first meeting with the PLP after his election. At this meeting he was virtually ostracised; there was no congratulations, no clapping – just stone-cold silence (see also extract, below, from Buzzfeed report). Mr Corbyn attempted to placate his critics by telling them there would be no automatic re-selection process.
Already it has been reported via Channel 4 News that all 12 whips who report to the Labour Chief Whip have refused to continue their work. This means that for the moment Labour MPs can do what they like and Mr Corbyn will have no idea what is likely to happen, in terms of voting intentions by his colleagues in the Commons.
This is how it is likely to be from now on. There will be no support for Mr Corbyn’s policies and in Parliament many on the Labour side will either vote against him or abstain or simply not turn up to the Commons at all. Their aim will be to make Corbyn’s ‘rump’ unworkable and irrelevant, so that his resignation becomes inevitable.
This, of course, is a high risk strategy for these Labour ‘rebels’, in that they will be acting in accordance with their own policy beliefs and not those of the wider Labour movement. It’s a risk because come next general election they may, in consequence, not be re-elected. But if these ‘rebels’ succeed in their objective they will have plenty of time to argue their case to their respective contituents.
As to the timescale: we may well be talking a matter of months – or even weeks, or days – for Mr Corbyn to be ousted. And if these attacks are successful, then waiting in the wings will be the Blairites, who by then will have redefined themselves in a ‘softer’ image as ‘unifiers’. And those who aligned themselves with Corbyn will thus be cast into the wilderness: these will include most if not all of his Shadow Cabinet (although many may have deserted him by then anyway).
(There is, however, a dilemma, that the ‘rebels’ face: if they oust one of the most popular figures in Parliament’s history, then they risk alienating millions of young voters forever; and instead of casting Corbyn and his supporters into the wilderness, they will end up casting the Labour Party as a whole into that wilderness.)
B. Scenario Two (the optimistic version)
How Corbyn might prevail…
Mr Corbyn is an astute and highly intelligent thinker and strategist and it would be improbable if he has not already thought through the above Scenario – or something like that – in both broad terms and in detail. Consequently, he will have plans in place to deal with such attacks on his person and his team.
He will no doubt take every opportunity to demonstrate the viciousness of Tory policies and how they represent a sustained attack on the poor and lower income of Britain. In doing so, he will show his leadership.And outside Parliament these attacks on Toryism will be extended – in universities, community centres, workers’ clubs, etc, up and down the country. The message will be driven home: that the real threat to everyone’s security is not Mr Corbyn, but the Conservative Party.
Mr Corbyn’s main strength is, of course, his impressive mandate – but that by itself is not enough to counter the attacks by the PLP. Instead, with much of the media either opposing him or providing criticism of his policies, and with many of his colleagues baying for his blood, Mr Corbyn may decide to look to his real constituency for support.
This constituency can be roughly seen as two sections (but not entirely separate). The first is the trade union movement – the workers who keep the country moving. Yes, they will be targetted by the tabloids with anti-Corbyn drivel, and any industrial action taken in support of Mr Corbyn will be threatened by the plethora of anti-strike laws in place. But imaginative actions that circumvent these laws will presumably be examined.
The second ‘constituency’ – which could be called Generation Zero – does not have a distinct, homogenous identity but consists of the millions of people who are disaffected, disillusioned, disenfranchised and who have been turned off by politicians and their lies over many years. Some in this constituency are young and have never voted on principle. Others are of an older generation who were dismayed by Blairism. The problem with this second ‘constituency’ is that it is not organised (in the same way unions are). Their main method of communicating is via social media and, generally, they are savvy to attempts of MSM manipulation. This ‘constituency’ will also, presumably, discover novel ways of showing support.
In the meantime, Mr Corbyn will no doubt wish to seek a rapproachment as soon as possible with all those MPs who did not support him and try and persuade as many as possible of them to switch sides to ensure the ‘rump’ is less of a ‘rump’. He may also court Liberal Democrats and Greens and even SDP MPs to either defect to Labour or commit to a solid anti-Tory alliance.
And if Mr Corbyn is able to survive five years of sustained onslaught and, consequently, remain Labour Party leader by the time of the next general election, at that point many constituencies may decide to ditch any Labour right MPs and choose, instead, someone to stand for election who is more sympathetic to Corbyn. This is the point when the changing of the old (i.e. New) Labour guard is most likely to happen.
And this is when Mr Corbyn could find himself, finally, as prime minister of a government that is generally socialist in its policies.
And at that, we leave it to the master himself – Chris Mullin – to describe what would happen next: “Prime minister Jeremy Corbyn: the first 100 days”