Let’s say Jeremy Corbyn wins on September 12th. It’s starting to possibly even look like a given, with the rumours circulating that some betting shops are considering stopping taking punts on the subject (just a rumour mind you, but that’s the way these things start). There will be miles of speculation about what happens to the Labour Party in the aftermath of this neutron bomb landing in the middle of it, should it do so.
At first, there will be no talk of a split; or at least, I’d be shocked if there was. That whole Gang of Four thing didn’t really work out as planned the last time Labour went full on Trotsky, so the temptation to do it again will be kept in check by this history lesson. But there is a way it could all happen again, coalescing around one man in particular, that exiled saviour who never was but still could be: David Miliband.
Before I lay out this scenario, I need to stress that I in no way think this is actually going to happen; this is a fun little bit of harmless speculation, not a prediction of the future.
2018. After years of infighting, attempted coups, Corbyn gaffes and all sorts of other fun, Labour are languishing in the polls, badly. It seems clear that the next election offers not just loss but possible annihilation along the lines of Blair’s prophecy. Getting rid of Jeremy is now impossible – those who have tried already to depose him have suffered extreme professional torment, and besides, the unions have basically said if he’s axed somehow pre-general election, they will definitely take all their money and split, starting up a sort of Corbyn for the Workers style outfit.
Into town rides Miliband the Older. David says he starting up a new party of the centre-left and is calling all recruits. Could the Chukas and the Kendalls resist this siren song from the throat of Miliband the should have been?
Imagine the arc of this story: a voting system brought in by Ed Miliband to bury his legacy problems in beating his older brother, inadvertently causes a crisis that allows that very same brother to become leader of a new centre-left party in Britain that supersedes Labour. This is why it won’t happen – it’s just too much like something from a novel to actually take place, surely. Then again, we do love in interesting times.
Of course, putting all that aside, the problems faced by this new entity even if it did manage to get off the ground would be much the same as those faced by the SDP-Liberal Alliance back in the 1980s. How do you match the centre-right’s financial might without union money behind you? Many have tried to overcome this conundrum and failed. Which is why, more than any other reason, that described above will probably remain a fairy tale.