Minister for Small Business Anna Soubry’s comments about the Labour party’s ‘very left-wing’ 2015 intake, on the last BBC Question Time before the summer break, seemed like a typically partisan piece of propaganda designed to stick in viewers’ heads while politics took a holiday.
Unfortunately for those among the reds with designs on winning back power from the Conservatives in five years time, Soubry’s comments may have contained a large chunk of truth.
Of the 48 Labour MPs who defied the party whip by voting against the Government’s welfare bill, as opposed to abstaining as they were instructed by acting leader Harriet Harman, 18 entered the House of Commons for the first time two months ago, with two more returning after regaining previously lost seats.
Those 20 bodies account for almost 40 per cent of the new Labour intake of 53, and they’re determined to be heard.
Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith told the BBC Daily Politics earlier this week that, while the last thing she wanted to do was go against the party whip so soon into her parliamentary career, the north-west constituents she represents wouldn’t have it any other way.
This goes some way to explaining centrist candidate Liz Kendell’s dramatic slide from 15/8 second-favourite for the Labour leadership a week after the General Election, all the way out to 20/1 a couple of months later; there just aren’t enough Blairite ‘cuckoos in the nest’, to quote Unite union boss Len McCluskey.
Veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn has gone the other way in the betting and now ranks as the biggest rival to 11/10 favourite Andy Burnham at 9/4, with former Gordon Brown ally Tom Watson looking increasingly likely to see off Stella Creasy, Caroline Flint and Angela Eagle at 1/6 in the deputy leader contest.
The ‘nightmare ticket’ of Corbyn and Watson at the head of the party is now just 11/4, yet certainly a far better bet than Labour winning the most seats at the next election at 2/1 with Ladbrokes.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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