Labour’s in a hole and it just keeps digging

Christian May
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Labour Leadership Election
Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith go head to head in Labour leadership contest (Source: Getty)

This is the time of year when the City starts to feel a little quieter. Indeed, the desire to find a bit of post-referendum down-time is likely proving irresistible. But spare a thought for one group of people who are already dreading the return to work: Labour MPs.

Their party will spend the summer locked in a bitter leadership battle and September will likely bring nothing other than confirmation of their worst fears – that Jeremy Corbyn will prevail. For those MPs who do manage to get away from it all on a summer holiday they could do worse than to pick a destination with no mobile reception, for the headlines about their party are unlikely to get much better than the ones seen in recent days.

Read more: Corbyn has an over 80 per cent chance of retaining leadership, bookie says

At the end of last week, Corbyn kicked off his campaign with a swipe at the pharmaceutical industry, demanding that medical research isn't “farmed out to big companies like Pfizer.” That his rival, Owen Smith, used to work for the drugs giant is surely nothing to do with the outburst. The idea that vital R&D should be handled entirely by the state attracted ridicule and condemnation in equal measure, shadow chancellor John McDonnell was yesterday forced to claim that his leader's comments had been “misinterpreted.” But it's not just policy rows hurting Labour.

Over the weekend, one of Corbyn's biggest backers – union boss Len McCluskey – suggested that the intelligence services were using “dark practices” to undermine Labour's leader. While sensible Labour MPs reacted to the suggestion with disbelief, newly appointed shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Rebecca Long-Bailey, told Sky News she wouldn't be surprised to learn the allegation was true. McDonnell's predecessor, Chris Leslie, described her comments as “ludicrously embarrassing.” Add to this ongoing reports of intimidation and harassment of anti-Corbyn MPs and it's clear that Labour is reaching new lows. Meanwhile, the Tories head into the summer riding high in the polls and without any effective opposition.

Read more: Corbyn launches leadership bid pledging to tackle nation's "five ills"

An election now would all but consign Labour to history. We're told Corbyn will take just one or two days off during the leadership campaign. There are plenty of his own MPs who wish he'd disappear for much longer than that.

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