Labour in turmoil as Eagle announces leadership bid
Every day, for the past ten days, (even though it seems more like ten weeks), Angela Eagle has been emerging from her front door then stopping at the gate, to announce to the assembled photographers, cameramen and a collection of assorted reporters, that Jeremy Corbyn "must consider his position", or do the "honourable thing and stand down" or some other variation on the same lines. She then goes on, with monotonous regularity, to threaten that if "Jeremy does not step down" or "resign" that she, "will mount a challenge" and "I will stand for the leadership, I will, I will, I have sufficient support, I have" etc etc.
The majority of the media are beside themselves with glee in the wake of Angela Eagle's comment of yesterday (Saturday 9th July) that she would announce a bid for the leadership of the Labour party on Monday morning, adding that she would “explain my vision for the country and the difference a strong Labour party can make”. In view of the "will she, won't she" antics of the past 10 days, the media are perhaps a little premature in the asserting that a challenge will be launched on Monday, but their blood lust for a Labour Party contest is almost insatiable.
Another complication in this already complex situation, is the rift between Angela Eagle and her Wallasey Constituency Party, who have declared support for Jeremy Corbyn as party leader. It is always problematic when a sitting MP is at odds with their Constituency parties, as many MP's in the plotters ranks are on this issue
However, it seems highly probable that there will be a Labour leadership contest stretching through the summer in parallel with the conservative leadership contest already under way.
The Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) however have a significant problem whichever candidate they select to challenge for the leadership. Since the mass resignations from the Shadow Cabinet took place, the credibility of the PLP as "an honourable group of MP's seeking to do their best for Party and country", has been shattered. Firstly, it has been known for some time, that a plot to stage a coup against Jeremy Corbyn has been in preparation since even before the result of the leadership contest of last year was announced. Secondly the launch of the coup was delayed when the results of the local council elections in May coupled with the outcome of elections for Mayor in cities around the country, proved to be substantially better than the plotters had predicted. This resulted in the European Referendum result being used as the excuse for the putsch to take place. This was a mistake in timing and in justification. Thirdly, the coup organisers wrongly believed that a mass resignation from the Shadow Cabinet, would bring about the immediate resignation of Corbyn as party leader. When Corbyn's resignation failed to materialise, a vote of "No Confidence" was cobbled together in the vain hope that this would bring about the desired effect. Again, no resignation came about and the plotters retreated to a position of "Jeremy must resign" statements issued almost on an hourly basis, every day embarking in a war of attrition, as they desperately sought a solution to their self inflicted embarrassment.
The PLP have now it seems, come to the view that they will have to formally challenge for the leadership as Jeremy Corbyn has refused to hand it to them on a plate. They have still have to resolve who their challenger will be, as both the Angela Eagle and the Owen Smith camps consider that their respective choice is right for the post. Perhaps there may be others amongst their number who will emerge over the coming days to launch their own challenge. The PLP however, still have the "credibility problem". They are now viewed by many, not as a principled group of MP's acting for the party and country, but as opportunistic hypocrites in pursuit of their own agenda's, engaged in a grubby little coup to overthrow a democratically elected leader. It is a perception which will be difficult, if not impossible to cast off and the legacy of their attempted coup will be with them for some considerable time.
Tomorrow, Monday, might witness the start of the Labour leadership contest should Angela Eagle come down her garden path and say something different to the parrot like repetitions of the past the days. Whatever the next few days may bring, it will be a very long and a very bloody Labour Party Leadership election.