I take you all the way back to September 12th, 2015, and for those of us who followed the story closely, the inevitable became reality: Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party with 60% of the vote. In the build up to this, I thought Corbyn would experience a sort of honeymoon period once he became leader. A time early in his period as leader of the opposition when the Tories paused in their grinning at the Corbyn “gift” and began to fear, ever so slightly, that Jeremy’s ideas were gaining some traction with the wider public through his straight talking style of communication.
As it happens, Labour have received no real bounce in the polls at all post-Corbyn. Meanwhile, the press have been handed a series of perfect set ups with which to knock Corbyn all over the place, from the national anthem thing to his various mishaps in dealing directly with the press. The whole thing has got so far out of hand that this week has seen Corbyn getting pilloried for not bowing enough at a Remembrance Day ceremony. Of course that last story was ridiculous, but this is the tone that has been allowed to be set. The Corbynistas have not only not set the news agenda over the last two months, they have run screaming chaotically from it. Even the one semi-win from the period, that being Osborne’s stumble on tax credits, came via the House of Lords, not the Labour frontbench.
Yet despite this, things look bleaker than ever for the Labour right. Corbyn looks set to stay – he has to, at least until the PLP can be moulded more into his image. Most of the “resistance” are pinning their hopes on Labour stumbling badly next May, in a set of four elections to happen all on the same day, with the result being that it will allow a popular feeling that Corbyn must go to take hold. But no such thing will happen. In fact, I think Zac Goldsmith will win the London mayoralty, Labour will lose control of the Welsh Assembly, lose a lot of seats in Scotland, and do badly in the local elections in England. And I also think that the worship of Corbyn within his fanbase will only grow stronger afterwards. It has been remarked on before but is worth saying again: this is because they don’t care about winning elections, they only want control of the Labour Party. Which is what they have now, and no amount of electoral horror shows are going to make them give that up.
So what happens to the Labour Party then? I think it will take a very painful 2020 election to at least move the conversation on to the next level. No one will defect until then from the PLP, I don’t think anyhow, and I believe it will take the left winning another leadership election contest (which they probably would) before anyone starts thinking seriously of splits. But I think the day may inevitably come, because I can’t see how the left of the party loses its grip when they have the membership so firmly on their side.