Whenever the Parliamentary Labour Party meets, journalists gather outside the room in the hope that those leaving the meeting will reveal what went or that the argument will get so heated that they will be able to hear what is going on behind closed doors. Those of my colleagues who turned up to tonight’s PLP meeting were very much in luck.
George Eaton reports that Ben Bradshaw, the former culture secretary, left declaring the meeting ‘a total f*** shambles’ and that Emily Thornberry could be heard loudly upbraiding MPs for texting journalists about what was going on inside this supposedly private meeting.
So, why was his meeting so rowdy? Well, many MPs are still furious about having had a Jeremy Corbyn leadership imposed on them by the party membership. This mood hasn’t been improved by the establishment of the Corbynite pressure group Momentum which many moderate MPs suspect will be used to purge them. Added to this, John McDonnell, the shadow Chancellor and a loathed figure in the PLP, has just said Labour will now vote against George Osborne’s fiscal charter having used his pre-conference interview to say that Labour would back it. He reportedly didn’t realise what that charter entailed, which is an absolute budget surplus. This, along with Corbyn’s naive answer on Trident during the party’s conference, underlines the total lack of political experience at the top of the Labour party after the leadership election.
I suspect that stormy PLP meetings will be a feature of the Corbyn leadership; the vast majority of Labour MPs didn’t want Corbyn as leader and don’t think they owe much loyalty to a leader and shadow Chancellor who used to be serial rebels. But the reality is that as long as Corbyn has the membership behind him, he will be able to weather these storms.