One of the things that has stymied Labour moderates thus far (and looks set to continue) is that they are still trying to fight conventional warfare while Corbyn goes guerrilla style. Take the mass resignations from the front benches – the idea was that he couldn’t possibly hang on if they did so. Yet here he is, after 80% of his parliamentary party voted against him in a vote of no confidence, not only fighting to win another leadership contest but the favourite to win it.
When I say this looks set to continue, take most members of the PLP’s attitude to a general election. Many Labour MPs, particularly ones in fairly safe seats, are thinking that if May went ahead and called one, this would be a good thing. Corbyn would lose badly (no argument there) and he’d be forced to resign. The problem with this is that they are still thinking Corbyn plays by the old rules or that he cares in any way whatsoever about the conventions of parliamentary democracy. Given it is obvious he does not, why would he resign if Labour lost a general election, even very, very badly? And as we have already seen, if he isn’t willing to quit then there is actually no way to get rid of him while he retains the adoration of the membership.
I suppose the hope is that if Labour did lose 100 seats then the membership would be turned around and finally see the light. I’m not so sure. If over 60% of them are willing to vote for him a second time (which I think might just happen, but let’s see in a few weeks’ time) then they have shown that they don’t really care about winning an election all that much. So I think too many Labour MPs are hoping against evidence that something can force Corbyn to finally step aside. I don’t think there is anything, frankly. I don’t even think losing a leadership contest would do it for Corbyn. He’d probably either bully the NEC into declaring the contest null and void, or in a worst case scenario, simply split the party. If he’s gone this far, why not?
This all needs to be considered seriously if Jeremy Corbyn wins the current leadership contest, particularly by a similarly large margin compared to the last time. A split is increasingly unavoidable.
Matt (Bristol) says
Corbyn’s innstinctive plan (such as it is) seems to me to try to win by deliberately not winning. It is to become the new UKIP of the Left and seek by stubborn-ness, denial and obstuctionism to drag politics in his direction.
To problem is a hard-line core group like UKIP needs a centrist party with overlapping support it can drag (like UKIP dragged the Tories).
So for Corbyn’s strategy (if it is such) to work, he would actually need Labour to split. He would only need 20 MPs in his continuity Labour Party – but obviously it bolsters his street cred with his support and hold over those 20 Mps if he is the legitimist candidate, not the splitter.
It could work, in theory, in the long run (for a given value of ‘work’). Even in our system, it could work. It’s not disimilar to how the SNP work, or how the LibDems operate in the Lords, in fact.
But the main problem it is dependent on someone else has building – from scratch – a new centre-left party for Corbyn and his successors in ‘continuity Labour’ to manipulate, frustrate and annoy. And if that’s not possible it may be that all he has done is blow the remains of the centre-left to bits for no reason.
Lisa Gooch-Knowles says
Corbyn is akin to Citizen Smith of the Tooting popular Front, only he is real and not a British sitcom, oh sorry, I stand corrected, he has turned the Labour party into his own sitcom
If he stays, I’m voting for the Green party
Toby Fenwick says
Spot on Nick. I was asked today when will Labour be back as an opposition. 2025?
Major opportunity for the LibDems, of course.