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.