The Left Needs an Alternative Candidate in Case Corbyn Falls

First Published in the Huffington Post

Despite their dominance of the headlines for the last 24 hours, the Labour plotters have a key weakness. They know that they can only remove Jeremy Corbyn if he chooses to resign. The normal course of action in any parliamentary coup is to force a leadership election. But that would assume you have an alternate leader who could win. In fact the opposite is the case – there is an array of rival candidates for the position – Tom Watson, Angela Eagle, Dan Jarvis etc. – and the likelihood is that Labour members would once again elect Corbyn by a huge margin. So as long as Jeremy Corbyn sticks to his guns and doesn’t stand down, it is very unlikely that he can be toppled, however many shadow ministers resign.

The issue is the same as it has been since last summer — the Parliamentary party and the membership are now entirely at odds with one another. A split is beginning to feel inevitable – if Corbyn is forced out there is strong a chance that he will form a new party based around Momentum, taking perhaps 20-30 MPs, several unions, and a sizeable portion of the membership. If Corbyn wins a second leadership contest then a much larger group of MPs, with fewer Unions and members, will leave and form something new. Either way, Labour as a broad based party will be finished. In some ways this could be positive. In the long run, having people with radically different views in the same party will always be chaotic, and will require ever more torturous gymnastics, such as those Ed Miliband was forced to perform. In two separate parties, each could put their case in a clear and principled way, and let the electorate choose which vision they prefer. Continue reading

What Happens to EU Citizens Living in the UK If We Leave?

First Published in the Huffington Post

The Referendum debate has involved two sides talking across each other. The Leave campaign focusses on its strongest card – immigration. It promises a utopian dream – ‘control of our borders’ – and this dream may be enough to lead them to victory. In contrast the Remain campaign focusses single-mindedly on the economy: the risk of economic disaster in the event of Britain leaving the UK. It’s as if there’s a tacit agreement that immigration is a negative and only by ignoring it, or in more recent days, kowtowing to anti-immigrant sentiment, can Remain have a chance of victory.

Amongst all this, one group of people has been largely ignored – the EU citizens already living here. There are estimated to be around 3 million EU passport holders living in Britain – around 5% of the UK population. This may come as a surprise as most are totally integrated into British life. It is likely that almost everyone in Britain knows someone in this position: they are friends, lovers, employers, colleagues, fellow-students, teachers of our children, academics, businesspeople, nurses and doctors. We’re not talking about those who come for a short time to earn money and then return home. I’m referring to people who have made their lives here, found love, had children, settled into jobs, bought houses. Most of these people can’t vote in the referendum – thanks to our bizarre rules, a French citizen living in the UK for 20 years cannot vote but an Australian here for 3 months can. So those friends and colleagues who are EU citizens are relying on us to protect them. If the vote is to leave, these people would no longer have a guaranteed right to remain in the UK and many could be forced to leave. Continue reading