What Jeremy Corbyn wistfully calls a “period of reflection” is rapidly turning out to be a civil war. It should be, too: the scale of what shadow chancellor John McDonnell calls a “catastrophic” defeat demands it. 

The blame for what happened in the general election needs to be apportioned, because it is part of Labour’s learning process. The elections for a new leader and deputy leader will benefit from that painful process, and from the personal visions and manifestos that will come forward from the contenders. A few trends, some worrying, are already apparent.

First is the growing assumption that Labour’s new leader must be a female from outside London, as if their views and policies and abilities are irrelevant. Mr McDonnell suggests this tick-box approach. This could be simply a ploy to manoeuvre a Corbyn continuation candidate into place, such as Rebecca Long-Bailey, rather than the bookies favourite, Keir Starmer. More generously, it is a recognition of Labour’s loss of support in the north. 

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