We might be witnessing the demise of the Labour Party

Chris Moncrieff
Chris Moncrieff

Labour MPs are making a real dog’s breakfast, dinner and tea of their leadership battle designed to dump the despised Jeremy Corbyn.

If, as many people seem to believe, Corbyn clings on to the job, then that is when Labour’s problems really do begin.

There is already open talk that these rebels – for that is what they are, despite claims to the contrary – would in these circumstances elect their own leader and effectively form a new party, a move which could consign the existing party to oblivion.

Corbyn has described this prospect as “bizarre”, has claimed that his leadership has actually increased the party’s membership, and that any breakaway faction would not be allowed to use the word “Labour” in its title.

The challenger, the dull Owen Smith, says that Labour now stands on a precipice, and that he is contesting the leadership to avoid a party split. But if he loses, he will create one.

Angela Eagle would have been a far better candidate, but it is doubtful whether even she could have converted the might of the party outside Westminster, which is largely pro-Corbyn.

But it is their own fault for having devised such a ludicrous leadership election procedure, and they deserve no sympathy.

Never before has Labour been in such a mess, even though it has in the past had its fair share of internal problems.

And as the shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has warned, the dissidents are now threatening the very existence of the party.

And so, within the next few weeks we could be seeing a total transformation in the British political scenario. The Tories can hardly believe their luck.

The Prime Minister is coming under increasing pressure to hold a snap general election, while Labour is in such turmoil.

The view is that in these circumstances, the Conservatives would wipe the floor with Labour and emerge with a three-figure Commons majority.

But May is more canny than that. Corbyn may be despised by a large bulk of Labour MPs, but he is making a surprisingly favourable impression in the country at large.

In effect, he would not be such easy meat as many Conservatives believe, and so the Prime Minister is probably right to bide her time.

Labour might well give a nasty and unexpected jolt to the Conservatives if May went to the country now.

Theresa May has quickly shown that she is no soft touch and won’t be pushed around. Her surprise move to delay a decision on whether to allow the China-backed Hinkley Point nuclear project to go ahead has caused consternation in some quarters, notably Beijing.

The news of the delay came just hours after the French had voted to go ahead with their part in the project. A final announcement will be made in the autumn.

The Prime Minister, in fact, was merely putting into practice the fears she expressed forcibly during Cameron cabinet meetings about the extent of Chinese involvement in this enterprise. She felt that both Cameron and the then-Chancellor George Osborne, were too gung-ho in the way the Chinese were being wooed. She wanted the Chinese companies involved to be vetted before any final decision was reached. In short, it was all about national security.

She may have upset the Chinese in particular, but that is by no means so important as safeguarding our national security.

She has done the right thing. Good for her!