Steerpike

Butler overlooks her recent past in deputy leadership pitch

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There are many characteristics that make a good leader. Honesty, eloquence, and charisma are traditionally high up on the list. But Labour's leadership elections have shown that one attribute is now prized above all else - loyalty to Jeremy Corbyn.

Almost all of the candidates have tried to present themselves as Corbyn's natural successor. The latest candidate to put themselves forward as some unswerving Corbyn ally is the deputy leadership hopeful Dawn Butler.

Ms Butler told a hustings on Saturday:

'We have some real selfish MPs, let me be honest, that thought it was okay that after Jeremy was elected, democratically elected as a leader, [they thought] "do you know what? Let's join a coup and do it again and try and deselect him." Well no. He was elected as our democratic leader.

'So, those people who selfishly thought it was okay to join the coup, as far as I'm concerned you lost us the election in 2017. Because if we were a united party, we would have won the election in 2017. I supported Jeremy the first time and I supported him the second time but I was more angry the second time because it should never have happened.

'I will never ever, ever join a coup because divided parties never win elections. And if we haven't learnt that lesson now, we will never learn that lesson.'

Would that be the same Dawn Butler who quit the frontbench in 2017 during a mass of resignations in protest against Corbyn's Brexit strategy? A resignation that was followed by the shadow chancellor John McDonnell warning of a 'soft coup' against Corbyn.

Butler even took a parting swipe at the Labour leader, suggesting that the party was '[letting] down future generations' by voting to trigger Article 50. If only those 'selfish' MPs could have maintained party unity, who knows, perhaps the 2017 general election might have been won by Labour after all.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from London and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk.

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