THE UNIONS MUST DECIDE.
The selection of Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham to be Labour’s candidates for mayor in the city regions of Liverpool and Manchester mean it is almost certain Jeremy Corbyn will be confirmed as leader of the Labour Party in September.
He will gain control of the party’s ruling National Executive (NEC) shortly afterwards following victories by the Momentum slate in this week’s NEC elections. The organisation was set up to buttress Corbyn support.
Following Corbyn’s victory, de-selection will face most of the Labour MPs who opposed him as the party becomes truly socialist as most of its huge membership desires.
Some of Corbyn’s opponents will seek to rejoin the Shadow team but we may see a majority seeking the Speaker’s recognition as the Official Opposition. This may be a prelude to the setting up of a new social democratic party. It would be a more credible organisation than the “Gang of Four” SDP that was created by Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams, David Owen and Bill Rodgers in 1981. However its success will crucially depend on what the unions do with their money. There needs to be a big debate at next month’s Trades Union Congress about what they do. The unions founded Labour to win elections in order to put in place laws to help their members. When do they expect that to happen under Jeremy Corbyn? A huge membership is fine. Engaged, enthusiastic activists are to be admired but a programme of high taxes, weak immigration policy and unilateral nuclear disarmament will be rejected by Middle England in 2020 as it was in 1983.
ROTHERAM AND BURNHAM.
It is unlikely that Liverpool’s elected mayor, Joe Anderson will remain “heartbroken” for long following his failure to be selected to be candidate for Labour in next year’s election for Liverpool City Region Mayor. He has already indicated he intends to deliver on his second term programme. He was only re-elected in May to serve till 2020.
One had heard of plans for Liverpool Council to revert to a leader/Cabinet model next year. Deputy Mayor Ann O’Byrne had even been mentioned as the person to lead the city if Joe became City Region Mayor.
The Lib Dems are launching a petition to scrap the Liverpool elected mayor post. Good luck with that. Joe will be staying,no doubt pledging to work in comradely fashion with Steve Rotheram but perhaps secretly warning that his former North Liverpool friend will lead the city region into a Militant style confrontation with the government.
Rotheram has a job of reassurance on his hands. He stayed as Corbyn’s parliamentary aide, and hosted Corbyn’s recent rally in the city. He is seen as Corbyn’s man and will need to satisfy the business community that he will not wreck the work done by Anderson in bringing jobs to the city.
Rotheram has revealed a strong bond with Andy Burnham who won the Labour mayoral nomination in Greater Manchester. They are planning a North West Powerhouse campaign to stop the backsliding on the devolution project that seems to be happening under the new Tory government.
Burnham’s Scouse connections did him no harm with Mancs in the end. Remaining in the Shadow Cabinet went down well with the Corbyn dominated membership. His analysis that devolution has been too Manchester centric and the politics top down and closed off,is right. But just as Rotheram has Anderson to deal with in Liverpool, Sir Richard Leese is still leader of Manchester Council, having made some disparaging remarks about the post that Burnham looks likely to be elected to.
We are all presuming that Rotheram and Burnham are going to defeat their opponents next year in these Labour dominated urban regions. I just wonder in these turbulent times if that is entirely wise.