Labour's very bad, terrible, awful, no-good week
Just where will it end for Labour? At the end of another tumultuous week for Britain’s main opposition party, the Labour leadership finds itself assailed on multiple fronts. First there was the row over Jeremy Corbyn’s position on shoot-to-kill. Then key Corbyn ally Ken Livingstone was attacked for offensive remarks he made about mental health. And now Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell faces questions about his backing for a hard left platform which called for the disbandment of MI5.
This morning one of Corbyn’s most high-profile opponents on the right of Labour, Chuka Umunna, added to his discomfort with a public threat to defy the party line against airstrikes in Syria. Corbyn recently rejected claims he would offer a free vote on the issue, but now there are signs he could U-turn amid widespread discontent in his parliamentary party. Such a move might tamp down the fury Labour MPs feel towards their leader, but it could leave Corbyn open to charges of inconsistency and incoherence.
The damage recent weeks have done to Labour’s image is underscored by recent polling and election results. While asurvey by Ipsos yesterday suggested Corbyn is the least unpopular party leader, many others have him polling at anunprecedentedly low level for a new opposition leader. Elsewhere research by former Ed Miliband pollster James Morris shows voters utterly baffled as to what the new Labour leader stands for, and the party received a drubbing in a by-election for a council seat it held in Kent last night. With crunch Commons votes and a Westminster by-election looming, things may not be about to get any better.
Photograph: Socialist Campaign