The writing’s on the wall for Corbyn in Kentish Town as McDonnell jokes about ‘useless f*cking plotters’
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
With the Labour Party threatening to tear itself apart as two MPs challenged Jeremy Corbyn for leadership, the under-fire Islington North MP received graphic support from a street artist in Kentish Town.
The pro-Corbyn graffiti appeared over the weekend outside a car wash in Kentish Town Road as it became clear Angela Eagle would launch her leadership bid.
The artistic display of support is in the constituency of Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer, who was one of dozens to walk out from Mr Corbyn’s shadow team in the wake of the EU referendum.
The mass exodus from the shadow front benches was widely seen as a coup, but Mr Starmer said he had no choice other than to resign because he had lost confidence in Mr Corbyn’s ability to lead the party.
Owen Smith MP also tossed his hat into the leadership ring after Labour’s ruling NEC made clear Mr Corbyn will be allowed to defend his position, despite being unlikely to get the backing of 51 of his MPs.
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Mr Starmer said yesterday (Wednesday) : “I’m glad that a leadership contest has now begun. The NEC decision to put Jeremy Corbyn on the ballot paper should be respected. We now need a clear outcome that unites the Labour Party.
As the internal struggle to define the party threatens to turn into an act of self-destruction, the Corbynista band-wagon rolled into Kentish Town on Tuesday afternoon for a Keep Corbyn Rally.
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Several hundred attended the evening of politics and comedy - with shadow chancellor John McDonnell grabbing the headlines for his verbal attack on what he termed “the first wave of a coup” by “conniving” MPs - who he called “fucking useless plotters”.
Mr McDonnell insisted yesterday that he was joking as the evening was meant to be comedic as well as political.
Graffiti and rallies aside, there are signs the north London tide may be turning against Corbyn, with two of his close neighbouring constituency parties apparently losing confidence in him since the Brexit vote.
The Holborn and St Pancras branch rejected a motion of confidence in Mr Corbyn by 44 votes to 35 - a notable result because the branch last year backed him as leader - and a meeting of Hampstead and Kilburn Labour changed its agenda from a motion of confidence in Mr Corbyn to one calling for a leadership contest – carried by 20 votes to 16.
A member of the Hampstead and Kilburn party, who did not wish to be named, claimed the branch has recently been flooded with new members, many of whom he believes are from the pro-Corbyn Momentum movement.
He said that over 60 new members have joined the branch since the EU Referendum, many of whom he believes come from the so-called “hard left”.
He said: “Since Corbyn was voted leader I’ve stepped away from any involvement in the party. To be honest, this national influx of Militant - I can’t call them Momentum - is very worrying. The new members have no interest in ever trying to win a national election. Compromise and debate isn’t part of their agenda – just conflict.”
Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq has so far avoided direct criticism of Mr Corbyn, saying it is unfair to blame him personally for the Brexit result..
Although Ms Siddiq nominated Mr Corbyn for leader last year “to widen the debate”, she voted for Andy Burnham, and is not expected to support Mr Corbyn this time around.
Ms Siddiq said in an email to constituency party members: “I believe the best option to save the Labour Party is to have a leadership election. This will allow members to provide a fresh mandate for the chosen candidate to take us into the crucial years ahead.
“I will unite firmly behind whoever wins (leadership) because my main goal is to provide an effective opposition and to form a Labour government at the next general election.”
Adding to the clamour for Mr Corbyn to go, 15 Camden councillors - including leader Sarah Hayward - put their names to an open letter signed by more than 500 councillors nationally.
The letter said: “Our country is facing a crisis - and the neighbourhoods we represent are on the frontline. We urge Jeremy Corbyn to make way for the new leadership that our communities so desperately need.”
Cllr Hayward this week made clear her support for Angela Eagle, tweeting that her campaign launch speech had been “barnstorming”.
However, six Camden councillors have signed a letter in support of their embattled leader - including Lorna Russell (West Hampstead), Roger Robinson (St Pancras and Somers Town), Sue Vincent (Holborn) and three Kilburn councillors.
This letter, signed by 240 councillors nationally, said: “Our enemy is not Jeremy Corbyn – it is the Tory party and their plans to use the EU referendum as a fig leaf to inflict further cuts to the councils we represent.
“We hope that those MPs who have embarked on this indulgent course of action will reflect on their behaviour and turn their fire on the real enemy, the Tory Party.”
Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West, who is friends with Mr Corbyn and voted for him last year, has yet to declare who she will support this time around.
Ms West, who remains in Mr Corbyn’s team as shadow immigration minister, said: “I did not support the vote of no confidence in Jeremy as I have always believed that it should be for members to decide who leads our party. I
“I’m glad that it’s now happening, and I firmly believe, as someone who campaigned passionately for staying in the EU, that any new candidate must set out a progressive vision for the UK’s relationship with Europe.”
She added: “I would not want to see our party conceding ground to UKIP style views on immigration.”