Dan Jarvis has picked a fight that he must win
In recent weeks, opinion has begun to firm. It’s becoming clear that should there be substantial losses in the local and devolved elections in May, Jeremy Corbyn’s position will be untenable. Save some rushed rule changes to a leadership nomination process, should the public reject Corbyn the time will come for a challenge.
The grassroots of this challenge have already begun. The reason Corbyn won, above all others, was a paucity of talent on offer in the last leadership election. Combined with too many muddled centrist candidates, Corbyn romped home on the basis that he was different to the others- on paper, at least. Like Corbyn’s willing organisers last summer, there is a nation of people desperate to sign up to the Jarvis ticket. A major difference, though- Jarvis will have the adults on board, the people who win elections for Labour up and down the country, the ones who know how to do politics.
Dan Jarvis appears to be the man who is stepping up to the plate. Corbyn’s performance has been nothing short of dreadful so far, with the blame squarely laid at the feet of his own team. Gaffe after Gaffe, shocking appointment after shocking appointment, they never gave themselves a chance. The dubious views of Seamus Milne, the poisonous anti-Labour rumblings of splinter groups, the return of the agitators and troublemakers expelled in the past few decades, all combining to form a broth of the stupid. Of course the operation is fraught with risk; lose the first fight and Corbyn is here until the election, Jarvis’ obvious potential thrown away. However things are so bad for Corbyn right now that it is entirely possible that he could be done away with, with enough time for wounds to heal after.
Dan already has enemies. The Corbyn bunch have looked at him, and can see him for what he is- an existential danger to their project. He’s a frankenstein monster of electability and sensible, soft-left policy. He has gravitas, he can speak properly, he has a wonderful back story and the Tories are terrified of him. The papers even quite like him. Dan Jarvis is a walking disaster waiting to happen for Red Labour, Momentum and the Livinstone clique.
In making moves, Dan Jarvis has picked a fight that he simply has to win. There will be a huge chunk of the Labour movement who will instantly turn to him, providing he shows integrity, competence and steel. However he’s about to see the New Politics- a mob, haranguing in comment sections, protesting in the streets, organising in semi-secret parallel political meetings to push motions against him or for the leader in CLPs- for what it truly is. The real question will be, how sharp are those teeth? How believable and powerful and wonderful are it’s messengers? The party conceded the leadership without a wimper. Now we need a warrior. Anyone sticking their head above the parapet to display competence from outside the Corbyn/Momentum bubble is picketed from inside their own party, wisdom, gravitas and statesmenship being kryptonite to the leadership’s survivability.
This is the Prime Ministerial test for Mr Jarvis. If he can keep his cool, if he an make the offer to the hard left that brings enough on board, if he can allow Corbyn to undergo his defenestration with an element of dignity, he will emerge as a genuine political contender. He will have saved the Labour party, and will be considerably well positioned to tackle Tory hegemony at the next election.
But victory must be total, it must be swift, and it must be uncompromising. Halve the membership, cleave it asunder if the people who have joined are for Corbyn and not for Labour. Jarvis is, right now, our only hope of a Labour government.