Interesting times at the Labour Party conference. I’d be keen to hear from those who are there – put your take on things in the comments and I’ll aggregate salient points into a post.
My take on this is that it’s been in the pipeline for a while. The Labour members I talk to have been really unhappy with the Parliamentary wing of the party for a long time. Generally speaking, they see it as being dominated by under-performing – or non-performing – list MPs, or electorate MPs in formerly safe-seats who are now letting those seats slip away. These people should have retired years ago, but they have no career prospects outside Parliament, and the power structure and leadership choices of the party have been about maintaining the salaries of these MPs, rather than winning elections. And once Shearer became leader – against the wishes of the members – he made the fatal error of pivoting to the right with stunts like the Dole-Fiddler-on-the-Roof speech without ever gaining the trust or support of Labour’s rank and file.
Obviously Cunliffe and his own ambitions play a huge role here. But Cunliffe is merely the one who identified the discontent within his own party and spoke to it effectively. If it wasn’t him it would have been someone else.