A modern fable: Goldilocks and the three Labour leaders

Nobody expected Jeremy Corbyn to win the leadership contest in 2015, I’m not sure even he expected it. Actually, nobody expected Jeremy Corbyn to even be part of the leadership contest in 2015 – he was put on the ballot, as history now tells us, to widen the discussion, to broaden the range of candidates on offer.

Well that worked out well. It may however have served a purpose in the long run.

“Once upon a time, there was a Parliamentary Labour Party.  They went for a walk in the forest.  Pretty soon, they came upon the need for a new leader.  They knocked and, when no one answered, they walked right in.

At the table in the kitchen, there were three profiles of potential leaders.  Goldilocks The PLP was hungry for a new leader.  She tasted read the profiles on the table..

“This leader is too soft!” she exclaimed.

So, she read the profile from the second bowl.

“This leader is too hard,” she said

So, she read the last profile.

“Ahhh, this leader is just right,” she said happily and she ate it all up.”

The failures of the 2015 General Election were many. Miliband took the fall and many saw him as neither style nor substance; ‘milifandom’ aside…

Is it possible the PLP were happy enough to have Jeremy Corbyn as leader for a short while, to reinvigorate the flank of the party and to steer the conversation, but that they never had any intention of him fighting a General Election?

Political tactics suggest that when your rival is taking a beating from the public, sit out this round, you can’t make it better (for you) and you could make it worse. When the referendum results caused Cameron to quit & Osbourne to disappear, leaving a faffing Johnson flapping at soundbites and failing to land them, what good can come from the Labour Party distracting?

Hilary Benn knows this, but yet acted anyway. The rest of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet v2.0 know this, but acted anyway. The public discussion was no longer just, “who will be the next Tory PM,” in fact it was mostly, “I’m a shadow secretary, get me out of here.”

The Conservative leadership collapse, with the ongoing Article 50 debate and the general consensus that Tory MPs are by and large, Remain voters themselves, a General Election is a real possibility.

So the Labour Party, instead of having a pragmatic King-for-a-Day in Corbyn, giving him some time to energise the base, attract new members and all the rest, then be removed over something less divisive in a year or two, they felt they need to act now.

The PLP couldn’t risk a second successive hammering at the ballot box, so measures were taken. Will they work? Who knows…

The problem now is that the general Labour populace seems to like porridge being too hot.


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