Francis Beckett

Labour Party members have to take a decision about their leader, and it's nothing like as easy as both the armed camps would have you believe.

Corbyn supporters say meaningfully: don't you believe in democracy then; and they sound like the worst of ther self-righteous Bennites of the eighties, ready at the drop of a hat to condemn you for ideological impurity.

Smith supporters say slyly: don't you believe in winning then; and they sound like Tony Blair, triumphantly telling Labour suppoorters that they couldn't have "the Labour government of your dreams."

If you're neither a Bennite nor a Blairite, it's not an easy choice. Every argument leads to a different conclusion.

* You can't achieve anything without winning, and Owen Smith looks more like the conventional political leader than Jeremy Corbyn does; the electorate might feel safer voting for him. Conclusion: vote Smith.

* But Corbyn's Labour Party hasn't done badly in electoral tests so far, especially considering his MPs were undermining him, and perhaps the Brexit vote shows that Britain is ready for a different style of leadership.  Conclusion: vote Corbyn.

* The Parliamentary Labour Party behaved appallingly and stupidly - just when the Conservatives were imploding after Brexit, they chose to direct all the negative coverage at their own leader, and to try to make it impossible for him to lead.  Conclusion: vote Corbyn.

* But Corbyn did retreat into his own ideological laager, surround himself with true believers like Seumas Milne, played into the hands of those who wanted (quite unjustly) to accuse him of disliking Jews or failing to promote women, and handled the public relations of the mass cabinet resignation really badly. Conclusion: vote Smith.

* Corbyn has not distanced himself from Momentum, the hangover from the Tony Benn years led by the fixer and ideologue Jon Lansman, and their tactics have traditionally been bullying ones. They like to use deselection as a permanent threat, a tactic which caused untiold harm in the eighties. Conclusion: vote Smith.

* But Corbyn's enemies often accuse Momentum publicly of things they have not done. For example, the Eagle twins - who, interestingly, learned their political methods at the feet of Jon Lansman in the eighties - accuse his supporters in the gay press, quite falsely, of homophobic abuse. Conclusion: vote Corbyn.

* Corbyn did not put his back into the Remain campaign. Smith is a passionate European; there's just a chance that as leader he might be able to force a second referendum once the terms of departure are known. Conclusion: vote Smith.

* But Corbyn actually put more work in that he is credited for; he could not have changed the result; and the hue and cry about Corbyn's performance served only to obscure the fact that the real architects of this disaster are in the Conservative Party, not our Party. Conclusion: vote Corbyn.

* Corbyn isn't up to the job, according to his parliamentary colleagues. Conclusion: vote Smith.

* But until a couple of weeks ago, few of us had heard of Owen Smith.  We've no idea if he's up to the job, and we can't take the Labour MPs' word for it, because we know they'll vote for a pig so long as its name is not Jeremy Corbyn.  Conclusion: vote Corbyn.

* Corbyn can generate enthusiasm, without which you have no election campaign. Conclusion: vote Corbyn.

* But maybe Smith can too, and Smith will not frighten away Middle England as much as Corbyn will. Conclusion: vote Smith.

* Labour must have a clean break from the Blair years and recover its idealism. Conclusion: vote Corbyn.

* But Smith was not in Parliament in the Blair years, did not vote for war in Iraq, and may be able to offer the clean break we need. Conclusion: vote Smith.

So I don't know who gets my vote. But whoever wins, the other side had better support them.  There can be no forgiveness for anyone who fails to do that once the election is over.

francis beckett

The Chilcot Report is a timely reminder of why Angela Eagle must not become Labour leader.

If Corbyn has to go, the Party must find someone not tainted with the worst of the Blair years. For Eagle to replace him, after the PR firm Portland Communications, run by Blair adviser Tim Allan, has been running crude stunts designed to destablise Corbyn, would make a mockery of everything we have been through since Blair went.

Eagle was an MP in 2003 and voted for war in Iraq.

She will tell us that, with hindsight, she would have voted differently. But she didn't need hindsight.

The decision to go to war in Iraq ranks alongside Anthony Eden's decision to go to war over Suez, and Neville Chamberlain's deal with Hitler in 1938, as one of the three worst foreign policy decisions of the last 100 years.

But neither Eden nor Chamberlain subsequently profited by their action. Neither of them went around the region selling their consultancy services after they left Downing Street