Angela Eagle appeared close to tears, when explaining her decision to quit Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet on the BBC. When claiming, "I’ve had to think very carefully about it, it’s been an agonising decision”, Ms Eagle made a better fist of seeming genuine, than the oily, corrupted hobbit, Michael Gove did, when he simpered, “I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.”.
Now, nearly two weeks, or many multiples of 72 hours later, her crocodile tears have dried, and she finally feels able to announce that she will challenge Mr Corbyn for the Labour Party leadership. Except, she didn’t, not exactly. What she actually did, was to announce that on Monday, she will announce her candidature. An announcement about an announcement, as it were. I suppose, it should come as no great surprise, that Ms Eagle’s latest statement proved to be every bit as dithering as that which has gone before. First, we were told on June 30th, that Ms Eagle had secured the support of the 51 MP’s and MEP’s required to make her bid, and that she was expected to announce that very day. No announcement was forthcoming.
Next, we were informed that Ms Eagle had decided to delay her announcement as there was “a belief by some people in the party close to Jeremy that he is going to go”. Only Mr Corbyn didn’t go. Instead, he ploughed on, defiantly cobbling together a new shadow cabinet, made up of the willing few. On July 3rd, Ms Eagle repeated her call for Mr Corbyn to go, insisting that "He's losing confidence in the party. And let's face it the country's in a crisis and we need strong opposition.", apparently, the mutineers were graciously giving Mr Corbyn the opportunity to make a dignified exit. How very magnanimous of them. Yet still, Mr Corbyn would not budge.
Earlier that same day, union baron Len McCluskey, had weighed in, “The trade unions can broker a peace- with Jeremy as our leader and the genuine concerns of the PLP, we can bring people together,”, he was wrong, they couldn’t. Yesterday, Mr Corbyn, we were gravely informed, could faced a leadership challenge within 72 hours, today, Ms Eagle confirmed that. The further delay, in declaring her candidature proper, is presumably to give Jeremy Corbyn one final chance to throw in the towel.
We are to believe, that the 172 Labour MP’s who signed the motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn, did so out of belief that under his leadership, Labour is simply not seen as an effective opposition, far less a credible alternative to the Tory government. Mr Corbyn, they claim, has not and cannot provide the strong leadership necessary. If not Mr Corbyn, then who? Ms Eagle? I think not, her ham-fisted attempts at fronting a coup, have betrayed a lack of conviction. Owen Smith? Sorry, who? Hilary Benn, a would be political heavyweight, who is in fact a political pygmy, particularly in comparison to his own father, has already ruled himself out. Mr Benn it seems, is willing to load the gun, but stops short of pulling the trigger. Could Tony Blair facsimile, David Miliband be the man to rescue the Labour Party from itself? It’s not impossible.
Come Monday, we will know for sure if the will be a Labour leadership contest, another delay would leave the Blairites looking even more inept than they do already, if that were at all possible. As yet, it is unclear as to whether or not Jeremy Corbyn as incumbent leader, is entitled to appear on the ballot paper automatically. If not, It looks as though he would struggle to muster the necessary numbers. If Mr Corbyn is prevented from standing, it would be an affront to the party members who elected him and travesty of democracy.