Sunday, 17 May 2015

Yesterday may yet turn out to have been the day that everything changed

It's been a mad ten days. 

Labour has not even had time to take in the scale of its crushing defeat (I will write about that next week), and everything has moved at breakneck speed. Two frontrunners (Chuka Umunna and Dan Jarvis) pull out of the suddenly-convened leadership race, and we are left with two leftish (and what we assume will be Unite-backed) candidates, Andy Burnham and Tom Watson (see Centre Lefts passim on Falkirk), as favourites for Leader and Deputy Leader.

But that is nothing as to the significance of yesterday. While leadership candidates gathered in London to display their wares at the annual conference of Progress (what was once the Blairite wing of the party), events of potentially much greater import were happening in Glasgow.

After surviving a vote of no-confidence by the Scottish Executive, Scottish Leader Jim Murphy dumbfounded everyone by resigning anyway, and using his resignation press conference to deliver a powerful and personal broadside against Unite leader Len McCluskey.

Essentially, Unite and a couple of other unions have forced out a democratically elected party leader, against the wishes of his Executive.

It is becoming ever more clear that we are headed for some kind of showdown between Labour and Unite, unless the party is going to sit back and let Unite dictate terms to it, as Murphy implied it is already doing:
"The leader of the Scottish Labour Party doesn’t serve at the grace of Len McCluskey and the next leader of the UK Labour Party should not be picked by Len McCluskey.”
As the Times' ever-observant David Aaronovitch observed on Twitter:
I suspect that he is quite right and that things are about to get very ugly indeed.

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