Isabel Hardman

How useful is Sadiq Khan’s endorsement of Owen Smith?

How useful is Sadiq Khan's endorsement of Owen Smith?
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Sadiq Khan’s endorsement of Owen Smith is rather handy for the ailing Labour leadership contender, given Khan is one of the few Labour politicians who has actually won something: that something being the largest personal mandate of any politician. This enormous mandate is rather handy when Jeremy Corbyn starts waving his own huge mandate about, but it may not be attractive enough for Labour members, who largely seem besotted by the idea of Corbyn as leader.

Yesterday Labour moderates were infuriated by the Corbyn camp’s email telling Labour members that ‘they’ (a wonderful pronoun that British people use to refer variously to someone in authority who is making things difficult, the weatherman, and those in charge of roadworks) have ‘stopped me voting for Jeremy. ‘They’ in this context refers to the party’s own NEC and the British justice system, which seems a tad ludicrous, and which was dismissed as such by many other people in the Labour party.

But to dismiss the email as ludicrous is to ignore how effective it is, far more effective than Sadiq Khan endorsing Owen Smith. It taps into the particular anger at what ‘They’ get up to amongst Corbyn supporters. It shows that Corbyn and his team understand how the Labour membership thinks, even if that characterisation of the Labour membership is largely one of people who seem quite enamoured with conspiracy theories. It is the failure of the moderates to understand how the membership thinks and engage with this, or recruit a more moderate membership, that leaves the party in such a mess. And the fact that Corbyn and co have understood it shows us that no matter how shambolic they appear in Parliament and to the voting public who chooses who to put into power in this country, they aren’t ineffectual when it comes to what interests them, which is taking and staying in power in the Labour party.