IT’S not like the old days, there’s no need to get a glass and cup it against the wall to hear what’s happening at Labour’s members meetings. Updates from inside St Pancras Church were being supplied on a sort of live-tweeting basis by council leader Sarah Hayward and several others, as members debated who should be nominated by the Holborn and St Pancras Constituency Labour Party (CLP) this evening. It makes life easier for us guys trying to find out what happens when the doors are locked, and as such so we know that former MP Frank Dobson repeated his concerns to the congregation about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, which you’ll have read in the CNJ in June, and Dame Jane Roberts, a former leader of the council, re-appeared to also back Owen Smith.
This all follows, of course, an email by Sarah and Frank’s successor as MP, Keir Starmer, urging card-carriers to help nominate Smith locally. But despite bringing out the big guns, Corbyn has won the nomination again tonight. Like he did in Hampstead and Kilburn earlier this month, and how he did in Holborn and St Pancras last summer.
For all the pleas to back Smith – the Dobson one is said to have particularly resonated with locals, who respected him for apparently risking a long-held working friendship to speak out- Corbyn’s supporters had them outnumbered once more, winning 274 members votes to Smith’s 196.
First off when you look at that scoreline, you can only imagine other CLPs would kill for having that number of people queuing up round the block to take part. Secondly, nearly 200 is not a disgrace of a score for Smith, and hints that some people who supported Corbyn last summer are not necessarily doing the same this time. But thirdly, it’s not a razorwire finish in Holborn and St Pancras tonight: Corbyn is a comfortable winner and the fear for Smith’s supporters must be that he still has powers in numbers, even the numbers don’t include people in positions which are meant to be influential. Two hundred and seventy four people have ignored the old MP, the new MP, the old council leader and new council leader to see him over the line. Will that in turn suggest a willingness for the wider membership, including those waves of post general election sign-ups, to ignore the wishes of parliamentary Labour party and vote to keep Corbyn as leader?