First week back and into the deep end

Parliament returned yesterday amidst a haze of a drizzly Summer Recess dominated by stark images of Refugees crossing European borders, the rise of an unlikely leader from the backbenches of the Labour Party and continuing negotiations ahead of the EU Referendum.

Both the Conservative and Labour party faced a first day back plagued by issues that have long infiltrated their parties. David Cameron faced the biggest rebellion of this Government so far with a welcome back gift from Tory rebels (in tandem with Labour) who blocked the Government’s amendment on the EU Referendum Bill that would have limited government activity during the “purdah” period before the vote. Whilst the Labour party entered its final week of a leadership contest that has been ambushed by claims of “entryism” from the left, broken electoral mechanisms and disenfranchised members.

David Cameron attempted to clear his heaving inbox with an announcement that the Government would accept 20,000 refugees over the next five years (a somewhat u-turn from his statement the week before). He used this announcement to reveal that the Royal Air Force had already carried out it’s first act of “self-defence against the rising tide of Islamic State” with a drone strike that killed three Islamic State fighters at the end of August. Whilst the legality of the Government’s actions is now under scrutiny, it provides them with a much needed diversion from the Syrian refugee question and the UK’s wider participation in the coalition against Islamic State. The shift in public opinion over recent weeks is sure to provide a narrative within which Cameron will want to utilise to achieve action.

If the polls are to be believed (emphasis on the “if”), long-term Labour rebel Jeremy Corbyn is likely to be crowned as leader this Saturday. A rise from fringe candidate to front-runner is a transition that many commentators have analysed in awe. However, the contest continues to be plagued with serious questions of credibility. Reports yesterday suggested that thousands of ballots are being reissued this week amid concerns that voting slips have gone missing. This follows numerous complaints that the party has been left vulnerable to “entrysim” by political opponents from the “wilder left,” and accusations that central Labour camp has been “purging” supporters of Corbyn and subsequently disenfranchising the very people the refreshed rules hoped to engage.

The “entryism” argument seems far from running out of steam; remaining a centre piece for Blairites to challenge the legitimacy of a Corbyn win and a mouthpiece for the left to cry “fix” in the instance of a loss. A dangerous tight-rope for Labour. The other four candidates will make their final pleas this week; with hope still in the Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham camps that they might still gain a win for the centre-ground by proving themselves as the “unity,” and election-wining candidates.

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Lauren Roden

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