At last! John McTernan – Tony Blair’s former director of political operations – has revealed his final solution for Jeremy Corbyn. A bona fide blueprint for the rebels, a call to arms. In his own words a “coup”, a “mutiny”.
Published in The Telegraph on Friday, McTernan pulls no punches with his opener. He calls Corbyn a liar and a hypocrite, who “has lost all credibility”. This, coming from a man who, on 29 July 2015, said that the possibility of Corbyn becoming leader was “an unlikely event”.
So what makes Corbyn a liar and a hypocrite? His ‘crime’ was to write to the Parliamentary Labour Party on Friday to state which side of the fence he sat – no support of Cameron’s plan for Syria air strikes. Hardly a bolt out of the blue, but confirmation of his position at least. Or so you’d think…
McTernan writes: “This surprised the shadow cabinet, who had just had a meeting with the leader in which he had – they thought – signed up to collective decision-making on the Syria vote.”
McTernan’s beef is that Corbyn stated during the shadow cabinet meeting that the process would be open to collective decision-making. That same day, Corbyn wrote to all members of the Labour Party to ask for their views. 70,000 responded within less than 48 hours. By Monday that figure was 10,000. From a sample of those, 75% said they were against bombing, 13% in favour and 12% undecided.
Perhaps consulting members and constituents isn’t the kind of collective decision-making that’s welcome. However, you may have noted that those on the right of the PLP have also made their intentions and views crystal clear. They support Cameron’s plan to bomb Syria. Would not extending this right to the party’s leader and members be somewhat hypocritical?
Hypocrisy. Hold that thought.
So, what are the details of McTernan’s Mutiny? How will this be achieved? Well, as McTernan points out, the previously “little known” departmental committees are now being chaired by Corbyn’s enemies. These committee chairs have “real status” under party rules and constitute the “real shadow cabinet”, according to McTernan. Rules. Hold that thought too.
Do the committee chairs have enough power to oust Corbyn? Somewhat downcast, McTernan admits that despite this “real status” they do not.
So, on to the next stage of the Mutiny – “a unilateral declaration of independence from the Dear Leader himself”. Well, blow me down with Captain Flint’s feather – isn’t that why we’re here, Long John?
So, what is the plan? Don’t tease!
1 – Bring out the plank
The first step to mutiny is to “enforce a whipped vote in favour of air strikes in Syria. The idea of a free vote is a no longer tenable.” Not content with just pulling out the plank, Long John secures it with the issue of strikes on Syria.
Well, lack of decency and opportunism are, after all, the insignias of all careerist Blirates.
2 – Ignore the ship’s rules and its crew
According to Long John, Corbyn began a “bitter fight”, even though “MPs were “careful not to cast the first stone”.
Wasn’t it Blirate Danczuk, after all, who cast the first stone when he wrote one of several stinging anti-Corbyn columns for the Daily Mail in early October and then rounded those off with a further rant to The Sun calling for a change of leader?
Long John himself has been throwing stones since July when he stated:
“…it just beggars belief that there isn’t something that, in the unlikely event Corbyn wins, there is something done swiftly and quickly to restore the party to its sense,” adding: “Yeah but who cares about the grassroots?”.
This level of “mutiny” on Corbyn’s part is, in itself, an opportunity to do away with the rules, says Long John in his latest masterplan:
“Is it within the rules? We are way beyond that point too.”
Rules. Remember there were rules?
3 – Read out the “charge sheet”
It’s at this point that Long John reads out Corbyn’s “charge sheet”. The crimes include:
• Disrespectful behaviour at the Cenotaph (by hanging out with veterans?)
• Attacking the head of the Armed Forces (for calling out un-Constitutional behaviour?)
• Appointing Ken Livingstone over Angela Eagle’s head (to bring balance to the Defence review?)
• Allowing Livingstone and McDonnell to make gaffes (because Corbyn should have made them walk the plank long ago presumably)
Guilty as charged! By a Jury of 12 Fine Men selected from the right-wing press.
Turning to his rule enforcers, Long John asks: “Will the PLP act? Well, they have to. If Syria is not the trigger, then the disastrous result predicted in Oldham West should be. Something has to give and it has to be Corbyn.”
With his finger on the Syria trigger (there’s an unfortunate metaphor), the die is cast.
Walk the plank, Captain Corbyn!
4 – Install a new Captain
With Corbyn now enjoying a peaceful life in Davy Jones’ locker, the final stage of the plan can be executed. Now to swear in the new Captain.
Long John’s choice is clear. Ahoy there, Hilary Benn! A man who has been hovering on the decks “attempting to maintain unity” whilst explaining “what Corbyn means”.
What an honourable gentleman – the same man who recently compared airstrikes on Syria to allowing the police to investigate the crime of domestic violence.
So, there you have it. Long John’s four-point foolproof plan. Should Corbyn and his supporters be concerned? No. This is more Blackadder than Machiavelli. A bilge rat could have come up with a more cunning plan.
But if Long John does have his way, and the pirates steer a new course, what then? Do the crew stay and fight? Or jump ship?