Tom Richmond: Will Labour MPs work with Jeremy Corbyn? Here’s one way forward

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
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WHEN Theresa May went back on her word and called a snap election, the assumption was that the Labour vote would collapse because Jeremy Corbyn simply lacked electoral credibility.

She could not have been more mistaken. The more the public have seen of Mr Corbyn, the more they have respected his sincerity – even though he would bankrupt Britain in my opinion.

Now her reputation – and the future of the country – depends on the extent to which the Lib Dem, Ukip and SNP vote is squeezed on Thursday. Even though a Tory triumph is still the most probable outcome, Mrs May will be damaged and diminished, as I feared, and will struggle to unite the country.

Yet this election also poses a dilemma for those returning Labour MPs who so disassociated themselves from Mr Corbyn. Despite 80 per cent failing to support him in last summer’s leadership contest, and many big hitters refusing to serve in the Shadow Cabinet in the hope that he would get the message, he appears to be exceeding expectations and galvanising his support with the party’s activists.

However, as two party politics returns, Labour could find itself losing seats, while increasing its share of the vote, on Thursday. If the party exceeds the 30.4 per cent support earned by Doncaster’s Ed Miliband in 2015, Mr Corbyn will, in all likelihood, stay on.

The question then is whether his MPs unite behind him – or not. Yet, given that good governance depends on effective opposition, more so than ever ahead of Brexit, Labour will need a more effective strategy for the future.

Mindful of how the formation of the SDP split the centre vote in the early 1980s, one option could be for Mr Corbyn to remain Labour leader while his MPs elect a Parliamentary leader who galvanises the party’s work at Westminster. It works for the Scottish Nationalists where Angus Robertson, deputy to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, performs this role with commendable effectiveness. And there’s no reason why this dual role couldn’t work for Labour in the short-term – assuming, of course, the party is still in opposition.

AT least beleaguered British Airways can count on the continued loyalty of one passenger – Jack Straw – following its IT debacle. In criticising BA chief executive Alex Cruz for not fronting up, the former home secretary and foreign secretary says there are two rules for ministers facing an operational crisis.

The first is to “face the music” as quickly as possible. “Rule two is that for those who seek to hide, it always gets much worse,” adds Mr Straw. I assume he’s speaking in the context of the ill-judged invasion of Iraq. Nevertheless it is sage advice for all those standing for election.

IF the Tories believe economic competence is as important as Brexit when the country goes to the polls, why has Chancellor Philip Hammond had such a low-profile role during the election? This simply does not add up unless Theresa May intends to fire him. If so, don’t voters have the right to know who is in line to be Chancellor so they can factor this into their calculations?

THOUGH Jeremy Paxman, once of this parish, was at his incorrigible worst when he repeatedly interrupted Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn during Monday night’s setpiece interviews on Channel 4 and Sky News, it’s also clear that leaders have become so accustomed to dodging questions – especially in the Commons – that they had forgotten what it was like to be put on the spot.

IT wasn’t just the fact that Theresa May was heckled when she struggled to respond to a teacher from Batley and Spen who couldn’t work out why school budgets are being cut when education spending is going up – the answer is more young people need to be taught – but that the PM did not recognise the importance of teaching as a profession.

WELL done to Huddersfield Town on winning promotion to football’s top flight for the first time in 45 years. With the fourth-lowest wage bill in the Championship, a club synonymous with Herbert Chapman, Bill Shankly, Ray Wilson and Denis Law demonstrated the value of prudent management and team work – lessons which are just as applicable to the public sector.

TALKING of the Premier League-bound Terriers, there’s surely no justification for Huddersfield’s A&E unit being closed, with patients expected to travel on unsuitable roads to Halifax, when the town – population 146,234 residents – will be welcoming football fans from around the world next season? Would a Health Minister sanction such a scenario in their constituency? I doubt it.

FOR the benefit of regular readers, there’s been no response from Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to The Yorkshire Post’s respectful request, on May 9, for a definitive timetable for the upgrading of trans-Pennine railway line. Given how David Cameron and George Osborne’s pre-election promises in a similar vein proved too good to be true, I’ll leave you to come to your own conclusions...

COULD political and racing history be about to repeat itself? The last time a Yorkshire-trained horse won the Derby, Flat racing’s crown jewel, was when Dante prevailed in 1945 – the year Clement Attlee defeated Winston Churchill with an unlikely landslide.

Now, Permian, trained by Middleham’s Mark Johnston and the mount of William Buick, a genuine contender at Epsom today, could it be the prelude to Jeremy Corbyn winning power next Thursday against the odds? You can’t bet against it.

tom.richmond@ypn.co.uk