LABOUR grandees are scraping around for a new leader if things go amiss for them in the forthcoming Copeland and Stoke Central by-elections, fearing that a continuation of Jeremy Corbyn at the helm could lead the party to disaster at the next general election and beyond.

It has also been suggested that they are trying to keep Corbyn away from these two contests later this month, fearing his appearance on doorsteps could make a difficult situation even worse.

Needless to say, they are refuting these stories, but it is a maxim of politics that you should never believe a story until it has been officially denied.

The party’s prospects in these two Labour-held constituencies is rocky to say the least.

But defeat in one or both of them would be a grave humiliation.

That is why they are engaged in a last-minute scramble to try to save themselves from such a disaster.

But the official line is, they are merely checking their strengths and weaknesses, like any political party would, in preparation for the general election.

The last thing they want to betray is that there is a real worry, not to say panic, in Labour about the outcome of these by-elections.

If the outcome is bad for them, then drastic changes will have to be made.

There is no option.


What a hoo-ha over an alleged attempted kiss in the not-very-romantic setting of the rowdy Strangers’ Bar in the House of Commons.

It is said that Brexit Secretary, the convivial David Davis, was so exhilarated by the outcome of a Brexit vote that he leaned over in a supposed attempt to kiss Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary.

Abbott, not at her most ladylike, brusquely told him to Foxtrot Oscar.

This episode, scarcely an issue of political gravity, might well have ended there with laughter all round (possibly not on the face of Abbott), except that in a subsequent exchange of text messages with a friend, Davis said he had not attempted to kiss her and that anyway he was “not blind”.

It was these last two words (for which Davis apologised) that turned a frivolous piece of light-hearted fun into a grave issue of sexism.

Parliament is becoming more sanitised as each day passes.

Would someone please call a halt and allow the Commons to become again the bawdy place it once was?