Attention politics junkies: do you feel robbed of a drawn-out party leadership election? Before Andrea Leadsom dropped out of the Tory race we were all set for a nine-week campaign. And then before it had even started, there was just one candidate remaining.
If you’re wondering what political news to feast on this summer instead then fear not, because Labour’s leadership battle is poised to fill the void. After an unedifying start involving threats of legal action and allegations of intimidation, the Labour party has finally settled on the rules for a challenge to Corbyn’s lamentable leadership.
Angela Eagle will face Owen Smith in a battle for the top spot, which means that between the three of them the candidates represent a rock, a hard place and a black hole. Seeking to unseat Corbyn is not, on its own, evidence of a more moderate (or electorally viable) political philosophy. Eagle’s affection for the Labour party and despair at what is happening to it is clear enough to see, but beyond that her main pitch for the leadership boils down to being a working-class, northern woman. She’s fond of such labels and repeats them often.
Owen Smith, meanwhile, launched his campaign yesterday with a commitment to reintroduce the wholly unnecessary and damaging 50p rate of income tax. He also spoke of wholesale reform to the tax code and it’s safe to assume he doesn’t have simplifications or reductions in mind. Why, he wanted to know, do we not have higher rates of capital gains tax? Posing such questions does not bode well.
Finally, there’s Corbyn himself. Weekend polling revealed that 31 per cent of Labour voters think Theresa May would make a better Prime Minister than their own leader. Indeed, May enjoys a whopping 30 per cent lead on the question of competence and beats Corbyn among all age groups – including 18-24-year-olds. Under Corbyn, Labour faces electoral extinction. But removing him is only half the battle.
Those waiting in the wings need to be more than an acceptable face of Corbynomics if their party is to have a chance of regaining its losses, holding the government to account and, ultimately, mounting a credible challenge to it. Such feats are not possible under Corbyn and as things stand they’re unlikely to be possible under a successor.